KZN teacher uses social media to bridge language gap

Gloria Thandekile Mngadi.

Gloria Thandekile Mngadi presenting on a radio show. Picture: Supplied by Durban University of Technology.

Published Feb 10, 2021


DURBAN - With South Africa’s education system having been heavily disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year, a KwaZulu-Natal linguistic teacher is making creative use of digital resources to help learners.

Thirty year-old Gloria Mngadi, a language practice alumni of the Durban University of Technology (DUT), started a Whatsapp chat group where she teaches mostly children and some adults to read and write isiZulu and English.

Mngadi, from the town of Ndwedwe north of Durban, calls the Whatsapp group “Ingosi Yabantwana”, which translates to “Children’s Session”.

Mngadi chose Whatsapp for her lessons because many people are on the platform, whose relatively low costs compared with other social media sites make it more accessible particularly to lower income communities, she told the African News Agency on Wednesday.

The 30 year-old DUT graduate intends to bridge the language gap experienced by learners attending all-English or all-Zulu speaking schools.

“Ingosi yabantwana is a story telling group. It’s where I am educating children through story telling. I am educating them about preserving language and to also know the languages, isiZulu and English,” Mngadi said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

“At school, in the English class you don’t get a chance to interpret in your own language. My plan is to teach them at an early age as language is the core of life and can open lots of opportunities.”

Mngadi uses three mediums for her lessons; namely pictures as well as sound and video clips, all of which she utilises to tell stories.

Before a child can begin lessons on the group, Mngadi assesses their level of competence in their language of choice. The ages of children attending her hour-long online sessions range from four to twelve years.

The majority of Mngadi’s students attend schools that teach in English and have not been exposed to isiZulu.

Connecting with others is something she has always excelled at, with her teaching experience dating back to her days as a student herself at DUT.

There, Mngadi was an isiZulu tutor, helping students preserve their mother tongue, according to Alan Khan, the senior director of corporate affairs at the university.

In 2015, she authored her first children’s book entitled “U Mimi no Zuzu Esikoleni (Mimi and Zuzu At School).

“I learnt a lot from DUT, especially being a language practice student,” says Mngadi.

“My highlight was attending the Friday poetry sessions at the Steve Biko campus. I used that platform to sharpen my poetry and writing skills. One of my achievements was being chosen to be a language tutor for isiZulu.”

When the 30 year-old is not being a maestro of words, she presents a radio show in addition to doing philanthropic work through her foundation.

Her aim is to do her bit in developing her community, including improving the quality of life for women and girls by educating them about menstrual cycles and raising their awareness on other gender-related issues.

“At the Gloria Thandekile Mngadi Foundation, we believe in giving every child every means necessary to live up to their greatest potential,” says Mngadi.

“Every child should be celebrated, and being a woman should never be treated as an impediment. Girls will shape the world of tomorrow and we all have the obligation to give them the confidence to succeed in building a better world.”

- African News Agency (ANA)

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