Social development theory: a case for multilingual tutorials (Mlts) in law

16 Jul 2018

Poor throughput and high attrition rates increase the cost of training and decrease the admissions opportunities for school leavers in higher education. The poor performance of students in a first-year Law course in an Accounting programme at a university of technology contributed to this problem. English is the medium of instruction but the mother tongue of the majority of students is predominantly isiXhosa or Afrikaans and many of these students were struggling with the medium of instruction as well as the discourse of the discipline. Submersion schooling compounds the deeply ingrained weak interlanguages of students entering higher education, presenting a particular challenge to effective learning taking place in the classroom. This investigation applied the three themes of constructivism that flow from Social Development theory as the theoretical foundation for the implementation of a multilingual tutorial (MLT) pilot programme as an intervention to improve the performance of the students in the course. The aim of this investigation was to determine whether MLTs could assist the student and lecturer to overcome the challenges that the language barrier presents and improve student performance in the first-year Law course. The MLTs were positively received by the participants and the cohort showed an above average performance in the course. MLTs indeed assisted in improving the performance of the participants. However, these findings are accompanied by the caveat that other factors impacting on student performance have not been excluded.