Language Teams – Phase 1

Afrikaans & South African English

Frenette Southwood
PhD (General Linguistics)
Professor: General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University

Frenette’s research focuses on typical and impaired child language development in multilingual contexts. As part of the ongoing collaboration that stemmed from European COST Action ISO804 (Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society), amongst others, she is working on a dialect-neutral and culturally fair child language assessment instruments in Afrikaans and South African English. With Dr Ondene van Dulm (previously of Stellenbosch and Canterbury Universities) she developed culturally appropriate language therapy material for use with young South African children. Frenette is a qualified speech-language therapist and audiologist. She obtained her PhD from Radboud University Nijmegen in 1997 on language impairment in Afrikaans. She spent 2010 at Heidelberg University as an Alexander von Humboldt research fellow and has received the Rector’s Award for Outstanding Research and Outstanding Teaching.

Helena Kruger
MSc (Clinical Linguistics)
Lecturer: Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy, Stellenbosch University

Helena is a qualified speech-language therapist. Her research interests include language and literacy development in multilingual and multicultural contexts, as well as assessment of developmental language impairment. She is involved in teaching, clinical education and research supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy. (Formerly Helena Oosthuizen.)

Nina Brink
MA (Afrikaans and Dutch)
Lecturer: Department Afrikaans and Dutch, North-West University

Nina is a lecturer in Afrikaans linguistics with a specific teaching focus on general linguistics, sociolinguistics and Afrikaans text editing. Her research focuses on the study of Afrikaans first language acquisition from a cognitive linguistics approach. In her master’s study, she focused on how very young children, just beginning to learn Afrikaans, make a conceptual mapping between the lexical form and a certain meaning. She is currently working on a PhD which focuses on Afrikaans-speaking children’s language development.


Babalwa Ludidi
MSc candidate (Speech-Language Pathology), University of Cape Town; B (Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy), Stellenbosch University
Speech-Language Therapist

Babalwa is a practicing Speech-Language Therapist with experience working in the National Departments of Health and Education. She is currently with the Department of Education, in the LSPID (Learners with Severe to Profound Intellectual Disabilities) Program. She has a special interest in working with children on the autistic spectrum. Babalwa’s Masters research project is aimed at describing the development of isiXhosa in children aged
8–32 months, and contributing to the adaptation of the isiXhosa CDI.

Khanyiso Jonas
PhD candidate, MA (General Linguistics), Stellenbosch University
Lecturer: Linguistics, University of the Western Cape

Khanyiso’s lecturing focuses on pscyholinguistics, language acquisition, research methods and syntax. For her PhD she looks at how language structure influences cognitive processes in adults. In her MA, she examined the effect of noun classes on isiXhosa speakers’ object perceptions and categorisation preferences. With her research, she wishes to play a role in the advancement of empirical and theoretical research on isiXhosa (and other related Bantu languages). Her other research areas of interest also include child language acquisition and language disorders.

Unathi Ngumbela
MA candidate, BA(Hons) (General Linguistics), Stellenbosch University
Research Assistant: General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University

Unathi’s Masters focuses on developing an Elicited Imitation Task in isiXhosa to measure second language L2 proficiency. He also works as the research coordinator for the project Understanding Language Input in Early Childhood in South Africa, looking at mother-infant interaction, and the immersive language of the infant. He has previously worked on the research project titled What Speech and Gesture Illustrate About the Thinking for Speaking Patterns of Child isiXhosa Speakers Learning English. His research interests include child language and development, particularly for isiXhosa, and interactions between children and caregivers.


Heather Brookes
PhD (Language, Literacy & Culture)
Associate Professor: General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University

Heather specialises in multimodal (speech and gesture) communication and has documented the gestural systems of black urban township communities in South Africa. Since 1998, she has been tracking language practices among multilingual township youth. She also works on language and gestural development in Sesotho investigating the development of representation and abstraction in language and gesture in early and later childhood and the effect of linguistic and cultural constraints on multimodal language production. Heather is leading the development of the Communicative Development Inventory for Sesotho. She also works on English second language acquisition among Xhosa speakers from 9 to 14 years from a multimodal perspective. She served as Vice President of the International Society for Gesture Studies from 2002-2005. She obtained her PhD in 2000 from Stanford University.


Sefela Yalala
MA (Linguistics)
Research Project Manager: General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University

Sefela’s postgraduate studies are focused on researching early language acquisition, especially within the contexts of Setswana-speaking children, her home language. Her interests are in infant and toddler language, the role of the social environment in language development, and early intervention. She has worked on adapting a language assessment tool (the CDI) into Setswana, and also consults on Sesotho and isiXhosa research. Sefela will continue her research with a PhD at Northwestern University in USA, where she will look at caregiver and child interactions and language intervention methods.


Mikateko Ndhambi
PhD candidate (Speech Language Pathology Contact), University of Cape Town; MM (Public and Development Management)
Lecturer: Speech-Language Pathology, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Mikateko’s research interests are articulation disorders, Developmental Phonological Disorders, and South African Sign Language. Her clinical skills are in Childhood Language, Language for Learning, Early Intervention, and Educational Audiology. She is developing a niche in Mixed Methods. Her most recent publication is ‘Beyond lip service: Towards human rights-driven guidelines for South African speech-language pathologists’.