Cognitive, affective, and behavioural aspects of attitude in isiZulu L1 tertiary students towards discipline-specific terminology in isiZulu and isiZulu as an academic language.
Sibisi, Muhle Praiseworth.
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The study uses the tripartite model of attitude to interrogate students’ attitudes towards isiZulu and the influence that the existence of discipline-specific terminology in isiZulu has on their attitudes towards isiZulu as an academic language. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), in response to the constitutional directive of elevating indigenous African languages in South Africa, has developed discipline-specific terminology in isiZulu for Administration, Architecture, Anatomy, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Law, Physics, Psychology and Nursing. The attitudes of students toward the availability of terminology have not been explored. This study explores the perception of isiZulu home language (L1) students on the availability of the terminology in the disciplines of Anatomy, Architecture, Law, and Physics, as well as the lack of the terminology in the disciplines of Community Development, Management, Chemistry, and Physiology. It distinguishes between the uses of isiZulu as a form of mother tongue-based education (MTBE), that applies in the entire learning experience of students, and the use of isiZulu alongside English with discipline-specific terminology as an academic resource for isiZulu L1 students. Applying a mixed methods research methodology, data is sourced using a questionnaire survey and focus group interviews from 149 isiZulu L1 students enrolled in the eight disciplines across the four colleges of UKZN. The results indicate that the attitudes of L1 students are directly impacted by two distinct language learning experiences; those with increased exposure to L1 hold positive attitudes, while those with diminished exposure to L1 hold negative attitudes. The study discovers that the L1 students were not aware of the availability of the discipline-specific terminology in isiZulu at UKZN and that they find the terminology difficult to decipher, irrespective of their language learning experiences. For this reason, there is a preference for loanwords in addition to the terminology in proper isiZulu. The results also indicate that the attitudinal responses on the three aspects of attitude are not consistently aligned towards the attitude objects. This study postulates that discipline-specific terminology in isiZulu should be used consistently throughout the schooling years of the students. The terminology lists need to include loanwords that are accessible to students. In this way, isiZulu, and other African languages, will be activated in academic contexts, the heterogeneity of L1 students will be catered for, and the students’ multilingualism will be a resource that enhances their academic performance. For language attitude studies, this study advocates for the investigation of the three aspects of attitudes individually, conducted both in the absence as well as the presence of the attitudinal objects, in order to obtain comprehensive insight into the attitude construct.