Research Article

IsiZulu task-based syllabus for medical students: Grading and sequencing doctor-patient communication tasks

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 41, issue 2, 2021 , pages: 149–159
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2021.1948214
Author(s): Roshni Gokool, South Africa, Marianna Visser, South Africa


The task-based language teaching approach related to the second language learning process is a widely researched area across many global languages. Yet this approach is given scant attention in South African tertiary education. This study, therefore, explores an isiZulu task-based syllabus design for doctor-patient communication aimed at enhancing communicative skills in the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) programme at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Specifically, the study investigates the use of tasks in a task-based syllabus design, the process involved in grading, and sequencing tasks based on cognitive complexity analysis. The cognition hypothesis and the stabilise-simplify-automatise-restructure-complexify (SSARC) model proposed by Robinson posits that pedagogical tasks should be sequenced by gradually increasing cognitive complexity. Following this view and by invoking Robinsons’ SSARC model, this article investigates how target tasks may be sequenced by manipulating task features of doctor and patient pedagogic tasks. This theoretical analysis intends to demonstrate how second language syllabus designers can advance and strengthen more widely in tertiary education the teaching and learning of isiZulu – or other African languages – for health sciences students and professionals.

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