conference speakers

Dr Tessa Dowling | Diversity Language

  • Cape Town

About:  Dr Tessa Dowling | Diversity Language

Dr Tessa Dowling has been described by a leading language academic as ‘both erudite and hilarious’.

She holds a PhD in African languages from the University of Cape Town, where she currently lectures. She has received a provincial award for promoting multilingualism and has taught many luminaries, including Helen Zille, to speak Xhosa, Mandela’s mother tongue.

She has written textbooks for the learning of African languages, as well as English, and is frequently called upon by the media to comment on issues relating to African languages.

She writes serious (prize-winning) academic articles and lighter humorous pieces on African languages and is a popular speaker at conferences.

Having begun her study of Xhosa at the age of twenty-five, Tessa is living proof that an English-speaking South African adult can master an African language.

Senior lecturer in African languages at UCT’s School of Languages and Literature, Dr Tessa Dowling says people still get surprised by how she speaks isiXhosa fluently.

Dr Tessa Dowling | Diversity Language

She believes it would make a huge difference if white people in South Africa would make an effort to learn more African languages.

I think that would show respect. It would make our knowledge system greater because the knowledge embedded in African languages is just not revealed.

The creativity and the humour in the language sometimes just blow me away and I think if people learn those languages they would find in themselves different personalities.

Dowling says by learning other languages people could help stave off dementia.

Research has also shown that if you learn another language you are less likely to get dementia.

— Dr Tessa Dowling, Senior lecturer at UCT’s School of Languages and Literature

Dr Tessa Dowling – Diversity Language special skill is her ability to teach delegates the basics of the language in 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes! Not only educational, this talk is motivational and indeed, a perfect accompaniment to any team building function.

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