Language ecology with reference to the country of Eswatini came under the spotlight in research conducted by Dr Sphiwe Dlamini for a PhD in Education which she was awarded during a UKZN graduation ceremony.
Dlamini’s research also focused on the language-in-education policy at secondary level.
Dlamini believes her research will add to the existing body of knowledge on language policy in Southern Africa with the emphasis on the role of indigenous languages in teaching and learning involving African children. ‘Instead of relying solely on exoglossic languages, the emphasis on codeswitching, codemixing and trans-languaging helps to bring better understanding and effective teaching and learning,’ she said.
During her studies, Dlamini faced financial difficulties and had to travel regularly between Eswatini and Durban for cohort sessions. ‘Being a career person and a mother of three small children also posed heightened challenges in trying to balance all my roles.’
It was a struggle at times but she developed a system that worked for her. ‘I worked on my research after hours and at night. I pushed hard to meet deadlines and to read and write every day! I had good support from family and friends and remained focused and avoided distractions, especially social media sites.’
Dlamini advised students to work hard, focus and be determined. ‘Prioritise your academic activities. Be conscious that there will be obstacles along the way so develop resilience because giving up must not be an option.’
Her plans include publishing more articles and books on language ecology in Eswatini. ‘There is currently a shortage of knowledge in this area and I would like to do my bit to improve the availability of literature on language policy in the country.’