I speak Shonglish: Closing the Ingenuity Gap in Science Through Translingual Practices

  • Erasmos Charamba, Kufakunesu Zano


Higher Education universally is fraught with communication philosophy controversies. Whereas the monolingual- biased oral philosophy has dominated higher education in Zimbabwe for decades, debate on use of alternative pedagogies of communication opened up recently. With statisticians estimating that about two-thirds of the world’s population is multilingual, the insistence on monolingual pedagogy defies all logic. Recent research also attributes students’ academic underachievement to the use of monolingual approaches within the education spheres. This article reports on the efficacy of translanguaging among Shona-English speaking students (Shonglish) in an undergraduate science course at a university in Zimbabwe. In this ethnographic study, data was collected through video recordings of 2 one-hour weekly lectures over a period of 5 weeks and interviews with students and the course lecturer. As higher education becomes more widely available and more internationalised, the sociolinguistic reality evident in these institutions contradicts the monolingual pedagogy and the present study joins the body of research calling on educators to view multilingualism for what it is: an asset.

Keywords- meaning making; monolingualism; multilingualism; science education; translanguaging.