Indigenous literacy for early readers

The aim of this project is to generate and infuse indigenous literacy content  into the foundation phase classrooms and investigate the effectiveness of instilling the local ways of knowing. Means of knowledge generation include literate reminiscing (storytelling, music, community games) and playful interactive reading activities in two Mpumalanga Province communities. The products envisaged include co-produced readers for early grades (1, 2 and 3) and technologically infused reading programme developed in collaboration with the local indigenous knowledge holders and practitioners. The main highlight of the project is that the local communities are actively engaged in joint research to give them agency and full participation in all stages from inception to production and dissemination of research outputs and products.

Wits Writing Project (WWP)

This is an intensive writing project with a developmental goal to upskill teachers’ writing abilities so that they become both writers and effective writing instructors. It takes places for 3 weeks in a camp-like style. During the camp sessions, teachers are engaged on the pedagogy, theory and practice of writing in multilingual classrooms. The teachers produce multilingual pieces of writing into an anthology and lesson demonstrations. The research part assesses the process of teacher induction and uptake through follow-up activities in their classrooms and presentations in different forums. Some of the notable achievements associated with this project include teachers’ acquisition and utilization of writing as a tool for thinking and multilingualism as a resource for deeper learning.

Literacy as a catalyst for human development

The tenet of this project is that literacy is a catalyst for change in the whole spectrum for human dynamics. The aim of this project is to investigate the interface between psycholinguistic strategies and socio-cultural practices affecting reading comprehension and examine the effects of a biliteracy model that integrates languages of input and output in selected rural and township schools amongst grade 4-6 learners. As part of the experimental conditions, teachers receive in-service support on a multilingual pedagogy that is premised on the value system of “Ubuntu” (Ubuntu translanguaging method). This approach seeks to disrupt monolingual bias and affirm the cultural competence of using more than one language fluidly.

School, home and multilingual literacies

This project seeks to investigate the interface between school and home literacy events in multilingual settings. It involves an ethnographic documentation of translingual strategies used in classrooms and home literacy spaces in three provinces (Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga). Teachers and parents/caretakers are viewed as key change makers in influencing language in education policy. They are involved in advocacy activities that include induction on language of policy to enable their voices and induce system wide change.

Human capacity development: Literacy and technology

This project aims at developing the next generation of scholars with research literacy processes and content of infusing technology in literacy events for early grade children. PhD and Masters students receive support on article writing, supervision, facilitation of postgraduate sessions in addition to building research capacity in their own studies. The main activities include a series of writing and supervision retreats where students interact with peers and supervisors on a continuous and supportive basis. It is expected that postgraduate students will produce research that infuses technology to develop culturally appropriate literacy programme for early readers (grades 1-3).

Multilingual readers, writers and pedagogical strategies

This is a Blue Sky project that follows unconventional literacy research and development programme. It aims at investigating alternative literacy pathways for multilingual readers in the foundation phase and to assess how the readers engage with texts in more than one language. Teachers in the Foundation Phase teachers produce reading materials with content in more than one language. Using Solomon Four quasi-experimental design, some of the treatment conditions include teacher induction on the pedagogy of translanguaging, classroom support and utility of multilingual reading. Teacher workbooks literacy development.

Languaging through Sign Language

HuMEL’s drive for inclusivity recognizes the historical marginalization of Sign Language. We do research and run a series of developmental projects with partners to raise awareness on the value of Sign Language as well as its ‘home language’ and additional language speakers. Its interface with South African indigenous languages is at the core of HUMEL’s programmes.