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University of cape town language policy

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Approved Senate 23 June 1999; Council 4 August 1999, revised 2003.

The language policy of the University of Cape Town takes as its starting point the need to prepare students to participate fully in a multi-lingual society, where multi-lingual proficiency and awareness are essential.
An important objective pertains to the development of multi-lingual awareness on the one hand, and multi-lingual proficiency on the other. Language and literature departments at UCT that teach South African languages other than English or international languages are expected to play a key role in exploring ways of assisting the UCT community to achieve such awareness and proficiency.
English is the medium of instruction and administration. English is an international language of communication in science and business, but it is not the primary language for many of our students and staff. A major objective is, therefore, to ensure that our students acquire effective literacy in English, by which we understand the ability to communicate through the spoken and written word in a variety of contexts: academic, social, and in their future careers.

Teaching and Examinations
English is both the medium of teaching and of examination except in language and literature departments where another language is taught and may be used. This applies at all levels, and to dissertations and theses for higher degrees.
To further the objective of the promotion of multi-lingual awareness and proficiency, all academic programme convenors and teachers will be required, with the aid of language and literature departments, staff in the Centre for Higher Education Development, and CALSSA (The Centre for Applied Language Studies and Services in Africa), to explore and implement ways in which these aims may be achieved through the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programme structures.

All applicants, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level, must have attained a certain level of proficiency in English and must be required to submit evidence of this as part of their application to study, as outlined below.
UCT language policy in respect of South African Senior Certificate undergraduate applicants:

  • South African Senior Certificate undergraduate applicants to UCT must have achieved a pass at 40% or more on the Higher Grade in English (First or Second Language) at Senior Certificate/Further Education and Training Certificate level.

UCT language policy in respect of undergraduate or postgraduate English Foreign Language (EFL) or Foreign Permanent (FP) applicants whose primary language is not English (note: an EFL country is defined as one in which English is not, for example, the medium of communication between educated groups of people who do not share a common language, or is not the medium of instruction in schools or a significant medium of written communication):

  • such applicants are required to submit one of the following: a recent score (obtained within 3 - 5 years before application for admission) of at least 570 (paper-based test) or 230 (computer-based test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); a recent overall band score of 7.0 (with no individual element of the test scoring below 6.0) on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); or, noting that this may only be written at certain designated venues within South Africa, a score of at least 65% on the university’s Placement Test in English for Educational Purposes (PTEEP).

  • on arrival at the university, all EFL undergraduate students will be required to write the PTEEP for placement, if necessary, in an academic literacy course or a mainstream course with an academic literacy component.

English is the language of internal governance and of administration. All English communication must be clear and concise and gender-sensitive.
All administrative heads of department will be required, with the aid of language and literature departments, and CALSSA (The Centre for Applied Language Studies and Services in Africa), to explore and implement ways in which the aims of multilingualism awareness and proficiency may be promoted.

Language Policy Doc 2 July 2003

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