The 2015–2017 #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall protests at South African universities and elite public schools in South Africa highlighted the continuing legacy of colonialism in our schooling and higher education system, which they experience as cultural and symbolic violence as well as class, race, gender and linguistic inequalities. The protests pointed us to the power of coloniality in shaping what counts as legitimate language and literacy practices in South African education.

Colonial constructs of language as bounded and standardised named languages, monolingual and Anglonormative ideologies are at the heart of educational inequalities in South Africa, leading to many emergent bilingual learners being viewed with a deficit. University students asked for a decolonised higher education curriculum and challenged their lecturers to reflect on curriculums and pedagogies that centre Western episteme while marginalising Southern epistemologies. Working in teacher education, particularly in language and literacy education, students not only challenged us to decolonise our pedagogies in teacher training but also challenged us to work with prospective teachers in ways that will prepare them for decolonising language and literacy education in schooling.

This paper is a reflection on the ways in which I disrupted monolingualism and Anglonormativity in an English medium university by creating a translanguaging space (Li Wei, 2017) or a linguistic third space (Anzaldua, 1987; Flores & Garcia, 2013) where students could engage in hybrid communicative practices in preparing activities that are inclusive of multilingual learners. Thus, this paper presents a case study of language and literacy pre-service teachers working multilingually to delink from monolingual and Anglonormative language and literacy pedagogy to promote a pedagogy that draws on children’s socio-cultural resources (Ngugi wa Thiong’o, 1986; Mignolo, 2017).


Anzaldua, G. 1987. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. USA: Aunt Lute Books.

Flores, N., Garcia, O. 2013. Linguistic Third Spaces in Education: Teacher’s Translanguaging across the bilingual continuum. In D. Little, C. Leung & P. van Avermaet (Eds). Managing Diversity in Educations: Languages, Policies and Pedagogies, pp 243-256. New Perspectives in Language Education.

Mignolo, W. (2007). “Delinking: The Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality and the Grammar of De-Coloniality.” Cultural Studies 21 (2‒3): 449‒514. https://doi.org/10.1080/09502380601162647

Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo. (1986). Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey.


Xolisa Guzula is lecturer in multilingual and multiliteracies education at the University of Cape Town. She has interest in language and literacy as social practice; biliteracy development; emergent literacy; critical literacies; multimodality; third spaces and bilingual children's literature. She is a doctoral student researching third spaces as a way of disrupting monoglossia and monomodal education and is one of the founders of the bilingual Molo Mhlaba School, in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.