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DUT Student To Graduate Cum Laude Despite Language Barrier

DUT Student To Graduate Cum Laude Despite Language Barrier

Media Statement by Alan Khan, Senior Director: Corporate Affairs at the Durban University of Technology

English was his third language and he would walk around with a dictionary in his backpack to assist him with his English communication skills after enrolling for a national diploma in Electrical Engineering (lower current) at the Durban University of Technology.

While Lingala – a language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo – is his home language, he had been taught in French his entire life and now had to adjust to receiving higher education in a language he struggled to communicate in.

Despite this challenge however, Matshitshi Kalombo, will graduate cum laude tomorrow (September 03, 2013) for his National Diploma in Electrical Engineering (lower current) at the DUT Steve Biko Campus.

Kalombo, from the DRC, arrived in South Africa in 2009 and in 2010 began his studies at DUT. “English is my third language. The official language of learning in the DRC is French and that’s the language that I speak better although my home language is Lingala. When I first enrolled at DUT, my English level was at five out of ten. During a test, I had to think in my home language and translate the message or answer back to English,” said Kalombo.

To overcome his challenge, Kalombo sought the assistance of his lecturers as well as from the University’s International Education and Partnerships Directorate which, among others, provides support to the University’s international students.

“I also did some self studying to improve my communication skills. Now I’ve reached a point where I can think in English and I don’t have to translate in my head anymore. It (English) flows naturally and people (who are fluent in English) compliment me a lot. I would say I am at eight out of ten,” he said.

Working hard and attending his lectures religiously is another reason Kalombo did well. “I was present in classes, not just attend but was present, making sure I understood the lecture. That way all I had to do at home was practice,” Kalombo said.

He spoke about some of the common mistakes students make which often lead to failure. Top among these mistakes is studying right before the test and cramming notes. “A lot of students just take notes and study before the test. This is like having a lecture on the eve the test with yourself as a lecturer. Students end up cramming information and forget it (information) as soon as the test is over and do the same thing at exam time but with a much bigger syllabus. This is detrimental because when you’re writing three subjects in a week, you’ll fail one, or two or all,” he said.

Kalombo recently completed his in-service training at PFK Electronics. He hopes to do his BTech degree next year (2014). For him, graduating is a dream come true and a special honour because his mother, a dietician, and brother will be in attendance to witness his achievement tomorrow.

“There is a time for everything. While you’re at school, your time must be dedicated to your studies,” he said.

A high resolution picture of Gift Ramotsepe is available from Sinegugu Ndlovu on request.

Issued by:

Sinegugu Ndlovu
Manager: Communications
Botanic Mansion
Division of Corporate Affairs
Steve Biko Campus
Gate 1

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