UCT Masters of Commerce student, Chido Dzinotyiwei, launches Vambo Academy an online tool to assist users in learning new Africa languages. Photo: UCT
UCT Masters of Commerce student, Chido Dzinotyiwei, launches Vambo Academy an online tool to assist users in learning new Africa languages. Photo: UCT

Want to learn an African language? Here’s your chance

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Nov 15, 2021

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IF YOU have always wanted to learn an African language but never knew how, a new online tool has just launched and it helps users learn a new African language.

Vambo Academy, a University of Cape Town (UCT) student start-up is set to make African indigenous language learning fun and interactive, all at the click of a button.

Chido Dzinotyiwei, a Master of Commerce student at UCT’s Graduate School of Business established her business with one goal in mind: to make learning African languages and cultures accessible online.

Dzinotyiwei said Africa is the fastest growing and second largest continent in the world, but sadly African knowledge and resources are difficult to source.

She said Vambo Academy is aiming to bridge that gap and make learning fun.

According to UCT, Vambo Academy is an educational technology (EdTech) platform that provides digital resources to support language learning and translation.

In addition to teaching indigenous languages, the platform also offers a dictionary service, as well as blog posts and podcasts on relevant cultural topics.

Students have the opportunity to learn a new language in one of two ways: using the self-learning tool and learning at their own pace, or they have the option of booking a virtual session with an experienced tutor for a one-on-one, personalised learning experience.

Dzinotyiwei said the objective of the business is democratic access to indigenous language learning and to champion the preservation of indigenous languages and cultures for future generations.

“We want to create a space where the diversity and richness of indigenous cultures is recognised and celebrated. We believe that language is key to achieving inclusion in our societies,” she said.

During the creation of Vamba Academy, Dzinotyiwei said her inspiration came in two parts.

“First, we acknowledge that education is the backbone of society. Yet, there remains large gaps when it comes to access to education on the continent, and language is one of the main barriers preventing students from pursuing their dreams.

“The platform was developed to provide students with the necessary resources to learn an indigenous language, and to improve their skill set.

“Second, we really want to preserve our heritage; so many African languages and their heritage aspects are fizzling out.

“None of us should ever stop learning about our culture and heritage because knowing where we come from is important. This is why we chose to call ourselves Vambo, which means ’origin’ in chiShona,” she said.

Dzinotyiwei added that she hopes this venture creates opportunities for talented individuals like writers, poets, teachers and translators and to be that stepping stone as they venture out into the world.

Those interested in expanding their language skill set can just head over to the Vambo Academy website to sign up.

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