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August 22, 2023

Resuscitating indigenous languages through translanguaging pedagogy within the evolution and dynamics of teaching mandarin in Nigeria and South Africa

By Philip Ademola Olayoku, coordinator of the West African Transitional Justice Centre in Nigeria. First Published in The African Governance Papers, Volume 1 | Issue 3 | June 2023 by Good Governance Africa


The debate on the power dynamics of pedagogy within multilingual teaching and learning environments has encapsulated discussions around suitable approaches to teaching second languages in an additive context that prioritises the preservation of indigenous languages. Scholars of linguistic pedagogy have historically theorised additive and subtractive multilingualism, with current debates centering on translanguaging pedagogy, which entails harnessing the different linguistic repertoires of the learner. This, among other things, involves codeswitching, during which the educational experience is extended beyond the classroom to the sociocultural context of the learning environment. While there has been much focus on teaching second languages early, there needs to be more literature exploring the expression of the translanguaging experience among young adults and professionals seeking to acquire second languages as cultural capital. Therefore, this study advances the discourses by unpacking the extant debates on the practices of Mandarin pedagogy in Africa, drawing from the educational experiences at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Nigeria and the Confucius Institute at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. The study adopted an analysis of in-depth interviews, primary and secondary literature, and digital archival materials to understand how Mandarin pedagogy is gradually gaining legitimacy on the continent. It advocates for indigenising the teaching staff to maximise the impacts of translanguaging on Mandarin pedagogy in Africa. It also postulates the need for the intentional development of indigenous languages to manage agitations around subtractive bilingualism by adopting national policy frameworks that enable the creation of multilingual centres for a mutually reinforcing pedagogy.

The centrality of pedagogic contexts to multilingual learning experiences suggests the need to revisit the affordances of the environment in facilitating language education, especially within international boundaries. Reservations have been expressed about using a different first language for teaching immersion into a second language as practised in what has been tagged the ‘two solitudes’ and ‘maximum exposure’, because this can result in subtractive bilingualism. Subsequently, scholars of language pedagogy have advocated for adopting translanguaging to facilitate faster learning and build students’ language repertoires, working towards the acquisition of new languages (see Cummins, 2019, pp. 19-20). The concept of translanguaging evolved from the advocacy of additive bilingualism, which entails continuity in the development of a first language while acquiring a second language. The indication is that the learner is given the leverage to learn the language within and outside the learning environment. This contrasts with subtractive bilingualism, which is learning a second language at the risk of losing an earlier acquired language, ultimately resulting in monolingualism (see Lambert, 1981).

Furthermore, Tuafuti (2010) posited that the methodological approach of translanguaging is essential to promote bilingualism, biliteracy, academic success (resulting from cognitive flexibility), language sustainability, better communication approaches, operational independence, and cultural values, especially among minoritised groups (Tuafuti, 2010, p. 7). By implication, it is essential to preserve every language in the repertoire of a multilingual speaker as a valuable resource, especially by creating an enabling environment for use and application (see Enstice, 2017). Within the South African context, Luckett (1993) noted that the politicisation of language policy within a multilingual context was layered along the phases of colonisation, which have had an enduring impact. This is with specific reference to the legacy of the British/Dutch-English/Afrikaans dichotomy and the primacy of both linguistic cultures that have been superimposed on other indigenous languages. The Nigerian experience is no less alienating, with the use of English as the country’s official language within a mutually suspicious multilingual context that has made adopting a national language difficult (see Araromi, 2018).

Similarly, Dorambari (2020) emphasises that subtractive bilingualism undermines ethnolinguistic vitality since it triggers an inferiority complex as a fallout from the subjugation of L1 (first language) under L2 (other acquired languages) (Dorambari, 2020 p.80). More often than not, this would entail the replacement of registers from the former with those of the latter, as can be observed in the formation of Creole languages. The Nigerian and South African contexts are not immune from such an experience, as evidenced in the Oorlams Creole in South Africa and Namibia, and pidgin English6 in Nigeria. Linguistic scholars have established the influence of first languages on learning and competence in acquiring other languages, as observed among bilinguals, trilinguals and other multilinguals. What is more, literacy depends on an individual’s knowledge pool rather than on language competence alone (see Rolstad & MacSwan, 2014). Consequently, sufficient mother tongue development, relative to specific contexts, is fundamental in understanding other languages. This is because understanding a language is different from an ephemeral knowledge acquisition process that does not guarantee sufficient proficiency in the acquired language.

Within the global asymmetric context of economic relations, especially given the growing influence of China, which has become an important political and economic force, language has become a tool for asserting dominance. An analysis of the nomenclature of Africa-China relations would unravel specific dimensions, including biases with respect to geographical dimensions determining economic agreements and diplomatic relations. Arguably, the appellation is an unsuited term for the context of China’s bilateral relations with different countries on the African continent, given its occasional interventions with sub-regional and regional bodies. This view reinforces arguments that China has a neocolonialist agenda, as expressed in different modes and versions of its cultural propagation. The view remains a significant source of suspicions about China’s relations with countries south of the Sahara (see Antwi-Boateng, 2017).

However, reservations about China’s global ambitions in propagating its culture are not restricted to Africa, as about 27% of the Confucius institutes (CIs) in the United States are reported to have been shut down since 2017. This is apparently due to allegations that the Chinese government is deploying them as channels of propaganda, influencing the teaching curriculum and activities of these institutions (Sands, 2021). Similarly, in 2020, Sweden was reported to have shut down all the CIs and teaching classrooms in that country due to growing distrust between the two countries (See Oliver, 2020). Following a year of speculation about the closure of CIs in Australia due to the fears of Chinese propaganda within the country’s educational system, a school in its Northern Territory recently terminated its Chinese language and culture programme (See Visentin, 2021; Fitzgerald, 2022).

More specifically, the provision in the constitution and regulations of CIs that the laws of China and partner countries apply to their operations could result in conflicts of rules based on different value systems (Sahlins, 2018). However, the Confucius Institute US Centre (CIUS), designated as one of China’s foreign missions by the US Department of State in August 20207, has a contrasting opinion. The centre has contended that CIs have operational independence because local schools and universities determine the teaching programmes in sync with Chinese partner universities.8 Horsley (2021) corroborates this claim by asserting that investigations conducted across CIs in the US have yet to produce evidence of illegal dealings, including spying and technology theft. She maintains that the application of CI constitutions and regulations have been misinterpreted. In her view, CI constitutions and regulations stipulate that the laws of each country should guide their activities, and they therefore do not impose Chinese regulations on institutions in partner countries.

In Nigeria and South Africa, there has been concern about threats to indigenous languages, with calls to use the latter for instruction at the basic level of education (see Araromi, 2018, p.101). At the time of writing, for instance, the Nigerian Federal Executive Council, on November 30, 2022, approved a new language policy that stipulates that the mother tongue should be used as the medium of instruction from primary grades one to six (see Agbakwuru, 2022). South Africa has adopted a national additive bilingualism policy, which among other things, protects the right of children to acquire regional languages of choice while stipulating the use of the mother tongue as the language of instruction where practicable (Luckett, 1993). This policy was initiated to address the superimposition of colonial languages, in this case, Afrikaans and English, hitherto deployed as languages of segregation but eventually ingrained in the country’s educational policy through their adoption as official languages (see Greeff, 2019).

These efforts give credence to Garcia’s (2009a) postulations that the only equitable way to teach children in the 21st century is through the bilingual experience. It helps them fit better into different class, racial and ethnic contexts, enabling them to cope with the linguistic complexity experienced across different social contexts. She describes translanguaging as leverage for harnessing various linguistic features and modes to enhance communication by multilingual speakers (Garcia, 2009, p. 140). In furtherance of this position, Cummings (2021) argues for a theoretically straightforward application of the term “translanguaging” by advocating additive approaches to minoritised students’ bilingual education. This resonates with Garcia’s (2010) advocacy for dynamic bilingualism, a utilitarian approach according to which different linguistic profiles are acquired to a certain degree to fit within other language groups (p. 24).

Within the Nigerian and South African contexts, one could argue that the dominance of English as the official language has resulted in subtractive bilingualism, as observed in the growing lack of interest in indigenous languages, especially by millennials. Such undermining of indigenous languages has led to the challenge of their loss of value as economic capital, which has worsened the situation within an emerging context of alienating intra-diasporic conditions akin to the experiences of Africans in the diaspora. While the debates on the importance of plurilingualism have mainly focused on early childhood education, the challenge of subtractive bilingualism lingers into adulthood, especially as the challenge of the gradual loss of indigenous languages becomes more palpable across generations.

This study aims to explore the emerging contexts of learning Mandarin in Nigeria and South Africa across different educational levels, from primary schools through tertiary institutions to the training of professionals. It comparatively explores Mandarin’s structures, contents and teaching dynamics as integral to implementing a translanguaging pedagogy in the two countries. Both countries host critical institutional components involving the teaching and learning of Mandarin that enable the comparative analysis of translanguaging experiences. A comparative analysis of this kind is essential to better understand the intentional development of indigenous languages in multilingual academies that this study advocates.

Mandarin education in Nigeria and South Africa

On July 4, 2020, China’s Ministry of Education announced that Hanban, the headquarters for coordinating the activities of CIs, would change its name to the Centre for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC) (Pinghui, 2020). Hanban was founded as a non-profit public institution9 in 2004 by Liu Yandong, then China’s vice premier, to promote China’s culture and language abroad. The first CI was established in Seoul, South Korea, during the same year. The initiative came to Africa through Kenya with the setting up of the University of Nairobi’s CI in December 2005 (see Pinghui, 2020; Sands, 2021; Bhaya, 2018). Based on available data, there were at least 61 CIs on the continent as of February 2021.10 In the same period, the number of CIs worldwide was put at about 541, with around 2,000 Confucius Classrooms distributed across 162 countries. CLEC provides funds, textbooks and teachers11 to partner institutions for CI operations. As part of the arrangement, partner institutions are requested to commit some of their resources to establishing CIs at their institutions (Sands, 2021).

CLEC is also charged with determining the standards for teaching Mandarin. Part of its approach to this involves conducting certification tests and general evaluations, as well as the accreditation of institutions. Along with the name change from Hanban to CLEC, the funding responsibility for the organisation was
assumed by the Chinese International Educational Foundation, a conglomerate of 27 universities and corporations. The foundation also does rebranding of CLEC by attempting to demythologise certain misconceptions about the mission of Chinese cultural centres abroad (see Horsely, 2021). Some commentators argue that CIs are integral to China’s strategy, as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to drive intercultural relations through people-to-people exchanges (see Bhaya, 2018).

The Confucius Institute, University of Cape Town (CIUCT)

The CI at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, was launched in January 2010 in partnership with Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. The centre focuses on teaching the Chinese language and culture to facilitate sociocultural and educational exchanges between China and South Africa. As a strategic location, Cape Town has emerged as one of the major hubs for the expression of Chinese culture in South Africa. It hosts the Huang Laoshi Mandarin Centre, known for screening movies, serving Chinese cuisine, hosting workshops, and organising cultural events that promote learning the Chinese language and culture. It also hosts the Ka Pa Tee centre, which serves varieties of Chinese teas and has an acupuncture clinic for practising traditional Chinese medicine, and a Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre.

The centre coordinates the degree programme in Chinese Language and Literature at the School of Languages and Literatures (SLL) of the university, and helps to provide personnel and resources for teaching the students. At its founding in 2010, the CIUCT taught Mandarin as an elective to eighty-five (85) students in the first and second year of their bachelor degree programmes, while about 220 students signed up for the course during the following session. It also conducted six-week learning sessions for adults who took short trips to China to acquire basic competence in Mandarin (Nan, 2013). Six modules on Chinese Studies are tagged IA, IB, IIA, IIB, IIIA and IIIB. The modules are taught from the first to the third year of study in pairs of A and B per year, respectively. The first and second-year students have five contact sessions per week, which include a conversation tutorial as well as the use of a language laboratory. By the end of the first two years, each student is expected to be proficient at an
upper-intermediate level, such that the third year can be taught in Mandarin but explained in English, which reflects the use of a translanguaging methodology within the classroom experience. Students in the third year have five classes per week. Students can also take up a scholarship to a partner university in China during the second semester of their third year, with the aim of enabling advanced proficiency in the language within the Chinese cultural context. As of the time of writing, the degree programme is headed by a Chinese PhD, Yue Ma, who has a background in English language and literature. He also has foreign education and research experience in the US and Canada,19 which aptly positions him to engage in bilingual heteroglossic pedagogy using English and Mandarin.

Beyond the university, the CIUCT also facilitates the teaching of Mandarin and Chinese culture to primary and high school pupils. It achieves this by supplying teachers and textbooks to partner schools. At least 18 schools have participated in the programme since its inception. The institute also has specialised courses for professionals and has taught police officers, among other professionals, Chinese proficiency. There are two level courses on Chinese Basics (102), which are meant for beginners to learn the Chinese alphabet, phonetics, grammar and semantics so as to acquire a working knowledge of the language. The courses have one contact session per week, lasting about 1.5 hours at levels 1 and 2. They are also taught by Chinese teachers and cost about R1,350 annually.

The CIUCT is managed by two co-directors, Mr Liu Wenwu (a Chinese national) and Ms Nicola Latchiah. The institute coordinates the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) – or Chinese proficiency tests – administered by the Chinese Test Centre in Beijing. Apart from helping to facilitate the teaching of Mandarin at UCT’s School of Languages and Literatures, it organises short courses for school students and professionals from neighbouring communities. The classes are divided into two levels, a beginner’s course tagged Spoken Chinese, and an intermediate level approach known as Chinese I and Chinese II. The language of instruction is English, which helps the students build their bilingual competence. The institute also teaches Chinese calligraphy alongside a Chinese version of aerobic exercises known as the Ba Duan Jin, comprising the teaching of proper postures, Ji Jin Jing with its 12 poses; and Tai chi with its postures for meditation. The CIUCT also engages in various cultural activities associated with the celebration of important Chinese feasts like the Spring, Mid-Autumn and Dragon Boat festivals, which include Chinese folk music, martial arts and Chinese opera. These initiatives are complemented by educational tours undertaken by South African lecturers and students to culturally significant locations in China.

The Chinese Cultural Centre (CCC) Abuja

The Chinese Cultural Centre (CCC) in Nigeria was opened on September 9, 2019, in the country’s capital, Abuja. The chairperson of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, Zhang Dejiang, attended. The centre is the 14th of China’s cultural centres abroad and the first in Africa south of the Sahara to be established since the turn of the millennium. The creation of this centre was part of the implementation of a March 2012 Agreement on the Mutual Establishment of Cultural Centres between Nigeria and China. The CCC contains multipurpose halls, galleries, multimedia libraries and classrooms where language teaching and other cultural activities take place. It coordinates educational exchange programmes and facilitates scholarships for Nigerian students to China. The centre is headed by a director, who doubles as the cultural counsellor at the Chinese embassy. The current head is Lee Xuda, supported by Linda Jia Xiaoling, his deputy. The centre operates under the cultural department of the Chinese embassy, which is managed by a cultural ambassador. The directorate also has a Chinese secretary who helps run the centre and liaise with the embassy. The management team is supported by several Nigerian staff, among them a general manager who is directly in charge of the events at the centre and serves as a liaison officer between the centre and the Nigerian public. Other staff include a programme manager, a logistics officer, a driver and a janitor.

The centre is a hub for Chinese cultural expression in the country. It renders services such as the teaching of Mandarin, training in martial arts, translation of official documents (mainly involving transactions between Chinese companies and their Nigerian counterparts), art exhibitions, hosting of events related to
Nigeria-China bilateral relations, as well as training in Chinese calligraphy, sculpture and cuisine. The centre also facilitates the hosting of cultural events in Nigeria’s capital, including a China-Nigeria exchange programme that involves musical performances in Mandarin and Nigerian languages, a cultural swap between Nigerian and Chinese models during the fashion show, a food fair, tea tasting, and art exhibitions, among other activities (see Onochie, 2017). In addition, the centre organises celebrations to commemorate some of China’s important festivals, including the Spring Festival, during which Nigerian students perform the dragon dance and display other learnings on Chinese culture.28 Such events have become important avenues of social exchange, such as when there was fundraising for internally displaced persons (see Ikuomola, 2020). As part of cultural education, the centre also sponsors tours to China during Chinese cultural festivals to allow students to experience the country (Abang-Adoga, 2018).

The teaching of Mandarin at the centre is similar to that of the SLL at the University of Cape Town. The course contains six modules, structured to be taught over three years. Each module is conducted for two months in preparation for writing the HSK. Classes are taught by Chinese teachers deployed from CLEC for two years. Initially, there were three Nigerian teachers at the centre, which might have facilitated the implementation of a heteroglossic pedagogy. However, students preferred Chinese teachers, which led to the experiment’s termination. The students are a blend of professionals and young school leavers, while the centre also facilitates the teaching of Mandarin in select secondary schools within Abuja. As of October 2018, there were about 11 Chinese Corners in government secondary schools in the federal capital. However, staff shortages have challenged the provision of educational activities at these corners. As of the time of writing, there is only one Chinese teacher at the centre. Some of the schools involved in
learning Mandarin and several aspects of the Chinese culture include Government Secondary School Apo, Government Day Secondary School Dutse Alhaji, Government Secondary School Jabi, and Government Girls Secondary School Dutse (see Aidoghie, 2020).

Another challenge is that the professional students at the CCC need help to keep up with the contact sessions scheduled for delivering the modules, primarily due to conflict with their responsibilities at work. The centre has introduced specialised classes for professionals, which cost about N50,000 per module ($11333). Under this arrangement, a Chinese teacher is sent to the location of choice to meet with the students. Lectures are usually held in the mornings for an hour between 9am and 11am. There are usually two contact sessions a week with the teacher, each about an hour long. Since modules generally last two months, students are expected to have had 16 contact sessions per module. Classes taught at the CCC are divided into two significant streams: Basic and Regular Stream. The classes are spread over four months and cost about N15,000 ($34). Streams are taken biannually; the first stream is between January and May, and the second is between July and December. Ideally, a stream is programmed to accommodate between 11 and 15 students, but there are often about 35 students within a stream due to staff shortages. Lectures are usually delivered to students of the Basic Stream for two hours every week on Mondays from 9am to 11am. The Regular Stream, however, has two contact sessions a week in the evenings, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5pm to 7pm.

Translanguaging pedagogy and the learning of Mandarin in Nigeria and South Africa

The relevance of translanguaging to the learning of Mandarin in Nigeria and South Africa derives from the multilingual contexts of the two countries. South Africa has 11 official languages, namely Afrikaans, Northern Sotho, Sotho, English, Ndebele, Swazi, Zulu, Venda, Xhosa, Tsonga, and Tswana. These are spoken alongside the Asiatic languages of Hindi and Korean (Nan, 2013). In Nigeria, English, a colonial legacy, is the official language. The ideal of establishing an indigenous language as the official language through the revision of the national language policy is complicated by the fact that Nigeria has about 400 ethnic groups and 500 languages/ dialects. Attempts to promote the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa languages, spoken by the dominant ethnic groups at independence (see Simpson & Oyetade, 2008, p. 172) were met with resistance in a country where hostilities among ethnic groups have led to secessionist agitations across different regions. Achieving a consensus around developing the indigenous language(s) as an official medium for communication is therefore challenging. The dominance of English within the educational contexts of the two countries has also led to perceived threats of subtractive bilingualism, which could result in the extinction of indigenous languages over time. This background might be behind citizens’ reservations regarding the activities of CIs in these countries (see Odinye, 2018; Homawoo & Conyers, 2021).

Historically, the insistence on the prohibition of L1 within immersion experiences is reminiscent of the colonial aberration of referring to African languages as vernacular, in what Luckett (1993) described as linguistic repression (Luckett, 1993, p. 38). The legacy remains palpable within educational settings, where students may even be punished for speaking these languages during school hours. This practice is a significant contributing factor to subtractive multilingualism, and it also perpetuates a racial ideology of inferiority by undervaluing the mother tongue as irrelevant cultural capital in today’s emerging markets. Within the context of these tensions, the inaugural director of CIUCT, Professor Wu Qianlong, noted that introducing Mandarin into the South African multilingual context was not without peculiar challenges, especially as the English speakers assimilated better than speakers of other languages. This led him to recommend that Chinese teachers adopt the teaching through an immersion-pedagogical method by learning indigenous languages, to enable them to communicate better with their students (Nan, 2013).

In Nigeria, while all the students interviewed at the CCC were quite proficient in the use of the English language, they noted that the number of contact sessions they had with the Chinese teacher was insufficient to build their competence in Mandarin. This, according to them, is partly due to communication issues attributed to the teachers’ inadequate knowledge of the English language. Introducing a new orthography and distinct pronunciation methods was a significant challenge for these students. This reflects a sociocultural disconnect within the learning contexts of Mandarin in Nigeria
and South Africa. Following this, adopting indigenous languages as the language of instruction could effectively create the needed legitimacy for Chinese cultural projects, especially in peri-urban areas where they are still very much in use.

In line with this, the principled use of L1 in the teaching context has been established by scholars such as Auerbach (2016) to be essential for adult learning experiences. Its adoption in a sociocultural environment that enables language learning outside of the classroom has been an important shift in approaches to translanguaging pedagogy. Cummins (2021) argues that the translanguaging experience in such contexts increases students’ disposition to embrace multiculturalism within their social contexts. Such a disposition is crucial if the cultural route of China’s Belt and Road initiative is to attain success sustainably. One could argue that this is especially relevant to the operations of Confucius Institutes and Chinese Teaching Centres as platforms that drive people-to-people exchanges towards realising China’s global ambition.

Cummins’ (2019) has argued that the translanguaging experience is a knowledge generating experience in which different linguistic modes and structures act simultaneously, as evidenced in codeswitching conversations. This is an essential postulation in support of the integration of local languages into the teaching of Mandarin in Nigeria and South Africa. Bilingualism in education and bilingual education need to incorporate a student-driven translanguaging experience whereby students are encouraged to apply their competence in the first language to learning a second (Garcia, 2010, p. 30). This shift is essential in preserving the indigenous language as the first language since it eventually becomes the language of instruction. More importantly, the success of this approach may be foundational in managing the complexities of adopting indigenous languages as official languages within different
African countries that are still using colonial languages for official engagements.


This paper has shown that there is an increasing number of Chinese language and culture graduates at universities in Nigeria and South Africa, and argues that using indigenous teachers to teach Mandarin would consolidate the translanguaging experience of African students. That is, learning Mandarin can be enhanced by multilingual teachers and students who share mutual knowledge of indigenous and English languages. As a student at the CCC noted during our interview session, indigenous teachers can empathise with the challenges that students face since they may have undergone similar challenges while trying to learn Mandarin.

Translanguaging also benefits the social context in which a second language is learnt. Codeswitching by learners outside of the classroom environment could facilitate interest in the language by friends and associates who pick up registers of the second language through such conversations. Society also benefits from additional competence within its labour force, acquired through the language as economic capital. Garcia (2009b; 2010) advances this line of thought by positing recursive bilingualism as a useful strategy in relearning languages. This is a process in which registers of an earlier acquired language are recovered during concurrent attempts to learn a new language. Garcia advocates for a plurilingual, heteroglossic pedagogy where multiple language acquisition implies varying competencies in their applications for different purposes within different contexts. Applying this to the frameworks of Mandarin acquisition in Nigeria and South Africa outlined in this article, it is plausible that multilingual academies provide more effective alternatives to the present approach. This would enable the incorporation of
regional indigenous languages to aid the concurrent development of competence
in multiple languages.

Finally, Sands’ (2021) proposal of home-grown, locally funded courses on China’s language and culture as an alternative to CIs in the US is worth considering. He gives the example of the National Security Education Program (NSEP) of the Department of Defence Initiative, which could be remodelled to manage the perceived use of CIs as propaganda machines of the Chinese Communist Party. While this is feasible for the US, a global economic power with a tradition of investing in studying multiple languages, it would be challenging to prioritise this for governments in Africa still grappling with attempts to stabilise their economies. However, one way to eliminate concerns around China’s perceived imperialist agenda in exporting Mandarin as a foreign language would be through policies aimed at developing indigenous languages. This would further strengthen the potential of their use as a medium of instruction across different educational levels of choice, even if on a regional basis (Luckett, 1993, p. 51). Greeff (2019) advanced this position by drawing on the South African context, where it is argued that the publication of literature on mother tongues and the creation of language laboratories could help develop children’s proficiency at the earliest stages. This approach would be a foundational step in implementing Pluddemann’s (1997) recommendation of a staggered introduction of African languages as languages of learning and teaching (LoLT). The goal is to create multilingual communities where learning foreign languages and cultures is perceived as advantageous rather than neo-imperialist. As observed during my visit to Tanzania, the introduction of Kiswahili as the language of instruction in schools resulted in reduced proficiency in the English language, with a number of Tanzanians expressing discontent about a deficiency in a vital language, which has made them less competitive within the global economy.

In conclusion, cultural power relations are central to the determination of teaching contents and methods since they define the perceptions of actors within the language learning experience. Collaborative approaches to teaching and learning should enable students’ agency in their immediate environment, which is as important as that of their instructors. Adopting translanguaging pedagogy would provide opportunities for mutually reinforcing classroom experiences among people of different linguistic backgrounds. This approach would neutralise the dominant dialogic pedagogical method with its coercive relations resulting from overt impositions of the language structures of the dominant ethnic group(s) (Cummins, 2021). Finally, more indigenous teachers of Mandarin must be engaged to teach, as they would be better positioned to implement the translanguaging pedagogical method through reflexive interactions with the students. One principal reason for this is the show of empathy in the classroom, as they can relate to learning a language with different orthographical and linguistic components, as earlier mentioned. Consequently, their ability to use English and indigenous languages in teaching Mandarin would be an important asset in aiding understanding beyond peripheral acquisition of the language.

(please see original paper for footnotes and full references)

Biographical Details

Philip Ademola Olayoku is the coordinator of the West African Transitional Justice Centre in Nigeria and has been working as an academic and development worker for over a decade. He has served as an expert with the African Union Commission and a policy consultant with the United Nations Development Programme. His research interests cover ethnicity and transnational relations, Africa-China relations, transitional justice, media studies, and more recently, the social implications of technology.

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