School of Arts

Research Investigates Multilingual Literary Practices in Rwanda

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Dr Amini Ngabonziza graduated with a PhD in Linguistics following his study focusing on multilingual literacy teaching practices in Rwanda where children in Grades 1-3 learn in their assumed mother tongue of Kinyarwanda while in reality their mother tongue is Oluchiga.

Ngabonziza’s study shows that local teachers adopt multilingual approaches to teaching in which learners write in Kinyarwanda (L2) and speak in Oluchiga (L1), regardless of the national policy of a monolingual teaching approach.

His study provides a baseline for the promotion of multilingualism in education in Rwanda. ‘Linguistic human rights demand that schools should allow multilingual learners to use their home languages at school,’ said Ngabonziza.  ‘My research provides a novel language teaching approach that bridges the transition between home language and school language in the context of African languages.’

During his research, Ngabonziza used a motorbike to collect data in remote areas where they speak Oluchiga. He noticed he was often viewed as a foreigner as he didn’t use their language. It thus took more time to get acquainted with them so he could get the information he needed.

Ngabonziza became a father of twins during his studies so had to ensure a good balance between parenting, studying and working.

He thanked his family, friends and supervisor Professor Heike Tappe for their support.

He hopes to become a lecturer while continuing research into African languages ‘mostly on the preservation of minority languages whose speakers are excluded socioeconomically while their language identity is not accepted in their home countries’.

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