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 Oosthuizen
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.

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.


Michelle Pascoe
PhD (Human Communication Sciences)
Associate Professor: Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Cape Town

​Michelle is a speech and language therapist whose work focuses on typical and atypical speech, language and literacy acquisition. Her particular interest is in speech development in the languages of Southern Africa, multilingualism and ways to support clinicians when working with families from a range of language backgrounds. Michelle is a member of the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech, and on the editorial boards of Child Language Teaching and Therapy and the South African Journal of Communication Disorders. She is the co-author of two books on children’s speech and literacy development and has published more than 30 peer-reviewed papers.

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

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.


Heather Brookes
PhD (Language, Literacy & Culture)
Associate Professor: 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.


Olebeng Mahura
PhD (Speech-Language Pathology)
Lecturer: Communication Sciences & Disorders, University of Cape Town

Olebeng is a Speech-Language Therapist and a lecturer in the Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cape Town. Her research focuses on describing typical and atypical speech sound development in children acquiring Setswana, and developing a speech assessment tool that can be used by other Speech-Language Therapists working with children acquiring Setswana. She has an interest in contributing research information that aims to improve speech and language services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders  in South Africa. Olebeng is a co-author of one book chapter and three peer-reviewed papers.

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 context of Botswana, her home country. Her interests are in infant and toddler language, the role of the social environment in language development, and early intervention. She is currently working on adapting a language assessment tool (the CDI) into Setswana, and also consults on Sesotho and isiXhosa research. Sefela hopes to continue with research in psycholinguistics at doctorate level and start publishing scholarly articles on her work. When she’s not studying babies Sefela likes to read, dance, and work out.


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’.