Available on the Mahikeng, Potchefstroom and Vanderbijlpark Campuses


In multilingual and multicultural South Africa, specialised skills for translation, text editing, interpreting, and audiovisual translation (subtitling and audio description for the blind) are invaluable. The demand is growing for qualified language practitioners who contribute to the development of our multilingual society and who are key role players in facilitating access to information.

The subject group Language Practice responds to this demand by offering dedicated undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in Language Practice. Through these qualifications, we equip our graduates with the skills and specialised knowledge required to fulfil the diverse range of professional language practice roles in our developing multilingual society.

Why study Language Practice?

In South Africa, a number of public and private institutions employ the services of language practitioners (either on a freelance or an in-house basis), including Parliament, provincial governments, universities, banks, insurance companies, publishers and the media. Qualified language practitioners are therefore needed at all levels of society and across a broad range of sectors to render specialised language and communication services.

At the NWU, we deliver graduates who are trained in the foundational theory and practice of a variety of career-oriented language skills. Training in the use of technological resources for language practice, such as computer-assisted translation tools, forms an integral part of the skills-development process.

Our graduates have pursued careers in:

  • Translation
  • Interpreting
  • Subtitling
  • Audio description
  • Text editing
  • Proofreading
  • Text reviewing
  • Language and terminology development
  • Copywriting
  • Language training and education
  • Journalism

Course information

Language Practice modules are offered on all three our campuses as part of the three-year qualification of a BA in Language and Literary Studies. Our undergraduate qualifications focus on a variety of professional language activities, and Language Practice is taken as a major alongside a number of other specialisations, including:

  • Languages (English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Setswana, French, German, South African Sign Language)
  • Creative Writing
  • Communication Studies
  • Psychology
  • History
  • Sociology

The combination of Language Practice with these specialisations prepares our graduates for a range of career opportunities and gives them the edge in an increasingly competitive global world.

At postgraduate level, we develop specialised research skills and offer training in the use of advanced product- and process-oriented research methods in Language Practice (such as corpus analysis, eye tracking and keystroke logging). Our postgraduate qualifications include a BA Honours, an MA and a PhD in Language Practice.

Our Language Practice qualifications are unique to the NWU and no other university offers the same qualifications that span undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Possible career opportunities

  • Language practitioners may work on a freelance basis or be employed on an in-house basis.
  • Translators and text editors work for language-service agencies or in public- and private-sector organisations, such as the language departments of various companies, higher education institutions, media houses (broadcast and print), publishers, the National Language Units and the provincial and national legislatures.
  • Interpreters may work in government institutions such as courts and the legislatures and community projects on a national, provincial and local level.
  • Audiovisual translators (who create subtitles or audio-described material for commercial and educational television programmes and films) work in entertainment media, corporate communication and education contexts, as well as in contexts where people lack access and where audiovisual translation can assist, like museums, tourism, live performances, etc.

Previous Language Practice graduates have gone on to pursue careers in:

  • Translation
  • Interpreting
  • Subtitling
  • Audio description
  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Text reviewing
  • Language and terminology development
  • Copywriting
  • Language training and education
  • Journalism

Interesting facts links