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Thursday, July 4 • 4:15pm - 4:55pm
Unpacking' and 'repacking' during the tutorial journey: Surfing semantic waves in multi-lingualism

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This paper enacts the LCT concepts of semantic gravity and semantic density in the investigation of tutors’ movements downwards and upwards along the semantic scale, during tutorials. The object of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of tutorials by investigating the role played by tutors in promoting learning among tutees. The research question that guided this study was: How do tutors support the learning of tutees?
Using a mixed-method approach, qualitative and quantitative data from tutor and lecturer interviews as well as a self-administered questionnaire completed by 896 tutees were analysed using semantic gravity (SG) and semantic density (SD).

The results showed that the pedagogical strategies that the tutors adopted enabled them to strengthen and weaken both SG and SD, for semantic wave construction and cumulative knowledge building. For example, by explaining concepts and using examples tutors helped tutees move knowledge downwards (SG+, SD–) on the semantic scale. Tutors also moved upwards on the semantic scale (SG–, SD+) by focusing on the application of formulae (for example in Accounting and Physics) and supporting tutees in practical experiments.

Further, within the context of this study, technical language was not the only issue that needed to be considered in the creation of semantic waves but multi-lingualism as well, given the diversity of the tutee respondents, most of whom spoke an African language. By using the tutees’ mother-tongue, tutors were better able to help tutees move knowledge downwards on the semantic scale to strengthen SG and weaken SD, than if English alone were used. This paper argues, however, that the use of mother-tongue education in tutorials could pose a challenge in the upwards movement on the semantic scale as some African languages might not have the English equivalent of certain technical terms.

This paper makes an important contribution to knowledge in the field because the role of multi-lingualism in the construction of semantic waves, to enhance learning during tutorials in higher education, is not well documented. The implication for African Languages is that there is a need for the creation of semantically dense terms. The implication for future tutor training programmes is that tutors need to be better trained on how to use language effectively to facilitate movements upwards, and not just downwards, on the semantic scale in order to create semantic waves.

Thursday July 4, 2019 4:15pm - 4:55pm SAST
Room B47

Attendees (3)