Nhlanhla Mpofu is a South African National Research Foundation Y rated researcher and a Senior Lecturer in Language Education. Her research attempts to bridge theory and practice in ways that English is used as a second language in different disciplines in multilingual spaces. Her research focus works to (i) problematize our understanding of English as a Language of Instruction (ELI) in multilingual contexts; (ii) develop new language teaching methodologies that draw from culturally sustaining pedagogy and informed by disciplinary linguistic requirements, and (iii) re-orienting second language education research in multilingual education systems. She is a strong professional with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) focused in English Education from University of Pretoria/Universiteit van Pretoria.


Research Focus and Publications


My personal research foci are: Teacher Language Education and curriculum,  Language Literacy and higher education teaching and learning.

Through my research, I seek to understand how teachers construct knowledge and develop competences for teaching. I draw my orientation from knowing sciences positioned within the socio-cultural and cognitive perspectives. My current research focus is two-fold. First, I seek to understand how pre-service teachers build their teaching dispositions during preparation and from their own experiences. To capture the rich, in-depth portraits and nuances of teacher preparation programmes, my research sites are both in traditional and distance education modes of delivery in national and international contexts. Following this research focus, I examine the preparation of teachers in institutions of higher education by specifically concentrating on how they construct teaching dispositions by engaging in critical thinking, reflective practice and problem solving. The working title of this project is “A comparative study of how pre-service teachers develop dispositions for teaching: tales from selected universities”.

Secondly, from an orientation that teacher preparation that only includes general pedagogy, content and pedagogical content knowledges is inadequate without proficiency in the language of learning and teaching (LoLT), the second strand of my research foci aims at exploring how pre-service and in-service teachers construct their language-across the curriculum knowledge during preparation and in the practice of teaching. To achieve this aim, I lead a research project, ” Exploring the preparation and experiences of teachers using English across the curriculum: An interdisciplinary approach” funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Thuthuka Research Grant. Through this research focus, l aim to explore best practices on how both pre-service and in-service teachers could be prepared to be language teachers across the curriculum. This means, for example, helping Geography, History, Mathematics, Technology, Life Sciences or Physical Sciences pre-service and in-service teachers to effectively infuse language structures in teaching their content knowledge. To attend to the context and uniqueness in which teaching and learning takes place, the research sites in this study are drawn from different universities and classrooms across South Africa.


Mpofu, N. 2019. Reflecting on ESL student teachers’ practice through critical incidents. Journal for Language Teaching, 53(1), 59-79. http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/jlt.v53i1.3. Available here

Maphalala, M.C. & Mpofu N.  2018. Exploring the teachers’ experiences of implementing a high   school curriculum: A South African view. Journal of Educational Studies, 17(1):57-75. Available here 

Mpofu, N. and De Jager, L.  2018. Exploring beginner teachers’ sources of knowledge for teaching Literature in ESL classrooms. English Teaching & Learning, 42 (1): 1-17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42321-018-0003-7.  Available  here

Maphalala, M.C. & Mpofu, N., 2018. Exploring the E-Learning Experiences of Academic Staff at a South African University. Progressio: South African Journal for Open and Distance Learning Practice, 40 (1): 109-125. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/0256-8853/4710 . Available  here 

Mpofu, N. & Maphalala, M.C., 2018, A comprehensive model for assessing student teachers’ professional competence through an integrated curriculum approach, The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa 14(2. doi:  https://doi.org/10.4102/ td.v14i2.486  Available at: here

Maphalala, M.C. and Mpofu, N., 2018. Embedding values in the South African curriculum: By design or default? South African Journal of Education, 38(3): 1–11. doi: https://doi.org/10.15700/saje.v38n3a1437  Available here.

Maphalala, M.C. & Mpofu, N. 2017. Reflections on the supervision of postgraduate research: the students’ voices in an Open Distance Learning (ODL) context. Progressio: South African Journal for Open and Distance Learning Practice, 39 (1): 109-125.  doi: https://doi.org/10.25159/0256-8853/2888. Available  here

Mpofu, N., 2017. What Can We Still Offer? Understanding Student Support in Distance Education  Teacher Preparation Programs. Progressio: South African Journal for Open and Distance   Learning Practice, 38 (2):33-46. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/0256-8853/1527. Available here

Mpofu, N. & Nthontho, M., 2017. Connecting the dots: Exploring teaching dispositions in the South African teacher curriculums. Gender and Behaviour (Southern Society for Education  Special issue), 15(4), 10290–10303. Available here

Mpofu, N. and de Jager, L., 2017. Teaching from the heart: exploring beginner teachers’ attitudinal     knowledge. Journal for Language Teaching, 51(1): 201–217. Available here

Mpofu N and Maphalala, MC 2017. Fostering critical thinking in initial teacher education curriculums:   a comprehensive literature review. Gender and Behaviour, 15 (2), 9342–9351. Available here 

Mpofu, N. 2010. Influence of knowledge of secular English Literature on the attitude of students toward the Adventist philosophy of education: a case study. Solusi University Research  Journal (SURJ) 7:32-44.


Mpofu, N. Constructing teaching knowledge across continents: experience of Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants.

Mpofu, N and Maphalala, C. Pedagogical approaches for preparing student teachers as EAC practitioners: examples from South Africa

Mpofu, N and Maphalala, C. What counts as teaching preparation for English Across the Curriculum (EAC) among South African student teachers. 

Mpofu, N and Maphalala, C. But, I am not a language teacher!  Exploring non- language in-service teachers’ English Across the Curriculum (EAC) practices. 

Mpofu, N and Maphalala, C. What counts as disciplinary literacies instructional approaches in teacher education?

Mpofu, N and Maphalala, C. English Language skills for disciplinary purposes, what practices are used to prepare student teachers?


Mpofu, N. 2019. What student teachers learn when putting theory into classroom practice. The Conversation (Africa), 26 August 2019. Available here

Mpofu, N and Maphalala, MC. 2019. Taking stock of postgraduate students in open and distance learning institutions, 18 February 2019. Available here

Mpofu, N. 2016. Exploring beginner teachers’ knowledge in the teaching of English literature (Unpublished PhD Thesis). Pretoria: University of Pretoria. Available here

Mpofu, N. 2017. Distance learning: The five qualities student teachers need to succeed. The Conversation (Africa), 5 November 2017. Available here

Mpofu, N and DeJager, L. 2018. A shock to the system: how new teachers in Zimbabwe learn to do their jobs, 23 May 2018. Available here

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching perspective is made up of four interconnected aspects that seek to engage students and promote transformative, reflective and service learning. Firstly, to guide my students to knowledge construction, l embrace multiple ways of language acquisition such as text, task, communicative and process based approaches. The enumerated approaches allows for scaffolding and sequencing of language acquisition that replicates the natural way language is acquired. To activate my students’ cognitive skills, l utilise a variety of learning strategies that account for the student language levels and their optimal abilities. Drawing from multiple theories of language learning, l provide appropriate activities geared toward individual and collaborative ways of acquiring language knowledge.

Secondly, l believe language is a tool for thought and communicating worldviews. In line with this belief, l approach both the teaching  of a language and language across the curriculum from different worldviews such as social constructivism, experiential, reflection and transformative learning. This means l pay attention to ways in which students construct knowledge in context, through interaction, experiencing and reflecting in action. The ultimate goal is to engage students in knowledge construction in ways that results in both transformative thinking and practice.  l believe this can be achieved through the use of the flipped, blended and just-on-time classrooms. Such classes allow students to engage with one another using online mediums such as blogs and social media sites. Language students who engage in knowledge construction in the way l described above transform into learning mediators; interpreters and designers of learning; researchers and lifelong learners; community citizenship and pastoral advisors; assessors; and learning area specialists.

The third aspect of my teaching philosophy is my approach to curriculum implementation. I believe all the approaches to curriculum implementation such as behavioural, cognitive and constructivist should be integrated to assist students appreciate multiple ways in which instruction unfolds in language teaching. Based on this belief, my language lectures are reflective of direct instruction, expository and inquiry based ways of learning. I understand this to mean that I must value my  students’ inferences, intuitions, discoveries, and conclusions they hold from interacting with the module content. Blended learning and flipped classrooms can be used for this purpose. To achieve this ideal, I encourage the students to make meaning through critical thinking, reflective activities that involve interactions with peers using an array of online mediums. I believe approaching the curriculum in this regard is valuable in empowering students and creating emancipatory thinking.

Finally, l strongly believe that student assessment should be continuous and account for variety of ways that provide evidence of knowing. I believe that assessment is important in providing students with feedback for them to self-regulate their strategies of acquiring  knowledge. By scaffolding the students, I am able to facilitate their learning and assess their knowledge construction. A tour d’horizon of the four aspects l discussed above indicate that my teaching philosophy is based on the overall belief that l am a facilitator of learning, a role l play by being responsive and reflective to the needs of my students.