Wamkelekile kwiSebe leeLwimi zesiNtu / Welcome to the African Language Studies Department

In the African Language Studies Department we believe that our languages are not just means of communication but our identity and heritage.

It is language that underpins indigenous knowledge, knowledge formation, African identity and culture. As the Department, we seek to acknowledge and address the missing link in the Africanisation and transformation debate, which is the silent voice of language.

Through our department, UWC allows the study of African languages to become unsilenced and move towards the centre of the academic process.  This process creates “mindfulness” and inclusivity as part of wider transformation of university culture that addresses the notion of previously silenced or marginalised voices (Langer 1989:69; Ting-Toomy 1999:3). This can be achieved through increasing the visibility of other languages used on campuses as well as the teaching and learning of African languages at UWC.

Our Department is home to all indigenous African languages, particularly isiXhosa and other Nguni languages as well as Sesotho at undergraduate level while at postgraduate level, particularly MA and PhD, all African languages are accommodated.

The department offers new market-related and job creation programmes such as Translation Studies and Forensic Linguistics


Career opportunities:

  • Teaching (Mother-tongue and non-mother tongue)
  • Translation and Editing
  • Forensic linguistics
  • Journalism
  • Creative writing
  • Research

The African Language Studies Department started in the 1980s as a Section under the Department of Anthropology under the leadership of Mr Frans Boot, with only three staff members: Prof Neethling, Mr AB Stuurman and Mrs A van Huysteen.
In later years, this section branched out to become a Department on its own and known as the Xhosa Department.

In 2020 the name was changed to the African Language Studies Department. The idea is to grow the Department and to offer postgraduate courses in all of the official languages. The undergraduate offerings will remain with a focus on isiXhosa, given the numbers of isiXhosa speakers in the Western Cape Province, though there will also be an emphasis on comparative isiNguni studies as well as other new fields of study such as Translation Studies and Forensic Linguistics.

The African Language Studies Department at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) offers a range of courses in isiXhosa. Some programmes focus on pure linguistics and others focus on applied language studies as well as on oral and written isiXhosa literature.

UWC is therefore an institution where the African Language Studies Department has a sustainable growth path through undergraduate and postgraduate studies against the backdrop of the institutional development plan as well as a process of transformation. New market-related and job creation programmes such as those offered in the Department including Forensic Linguistics and Translation Studies are ground-breaking and have the support of the university.