Professor Carolyn McKinney


Room 3.52, 6 Neville Alexander Building, Lover's Walk

Stream Head

MEd specialising in Language & Literacy Studies


I teach courses and conduct research on language and literacy teaching and learning in multilingual contexts.  My research is framed by a view of  language and literacy as social practices. I research the relationships between language, literacy and power in educational contexts of deep social inequality. I have published on language ideologies in schooling and language in education policy; relationships between ‘race’ and language; classroom discourse and power relations; critical literacy; identity, subjectivity and learning and translanguaging for learning. I am a member of the language and literacy for social justice, bua-lit collective (

Summary of interests: Language and Literacy curriculum and pedagogy; Language in education policy; Language across the curriculum; Bilingual and Multilingual education; Classroom discourse and translanguaging; Language ideologies in education; Critical literacy
Language, literacy and power in education; Identity/subjectivity and learning;
Racially desegregated schooling

Current & recent research projects

  • 2018 - 2021 Decoloniality and Language in Education: delinking and transforming languaging-for-learning (NRF funded project with Pam Christie, Cathy Kell, Matumo Ramafikeng, Soraya Abdulatief, Robyn Tyler, Xolisa Guzula and Pinky Makoe).
  • 2017-2018 Co-PI (with Mbulu Madiba) Translanguaging as Pedagogy at UCT. Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa (AHRC funded collaboration with UK PIs Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge, University of Birmingham).
  • 2014 – 2017 ‘Heteroglossia in Primary Classrooms’ (NRF funded project)
  • 2014 – 2016 Member of cross-institution research team, NRF Education Research Grant for project ‘Digital Resources in children’s and youth’s learning and networking’ (Mastin Prinsloo (PI), Ana Deumert, Marion Walton, Cathy Kell and Xolisa Guzula).

Current PhD supervision

  • Babalwa Molate: Family Language Policy and language socialisation in multilingual households
  • Hannah Carrim Teaching colonialism in post-apartheid South Africa: a study of history teachers’ identities, purposes and pedagogies

Completed PhD students

  • Soraya Abdulatief: Expanding the repertoires of practice of multilingual Science student teachers through a decolonial approach to academic literacies at an elite English medium university (UCT 2022)
  • Xolisa Guzula: Constructing a pedagogical third space with multilingual children: A case study of the bilingual Stars of Today Literacy Club# (UCT 2021)
  • Beatha Set: Using semiotic resources to teach and assess scientific concepts in a bilingual Namibian primary school: A socio cultural discourse analysis’ (UCT 2021)
  • Robyn Tyler:  Semiotic repertoires in bilingual Science learning: A study of learners’ meaning-making practices in two sites in a Cape Town high school (UCT)
  • Elizabeth Botha: Discourses of language acquisition and identity in the life histories of White men bilingual in isiXhosa/English (UCT)
  • Ana Ferreira: Subjectivity & Pedagogy in a context of social change (Wits)
  • Tracey McCormick: Discourse & Politics in the Production of Homosexual Subjectivities in South Africa: a Discourse Analysis of selected English non-fiction texts (1994-2008) (Wits)



Journal articles and book chapters