The Inter-institutional Centre for Language Development and Assessment

One of the educational challenges in a multilingual society like South Africa is that students who enter higher education are taught in languages other than their home language (or even first additional language) may struggle to complete their degree in the minimum prescribed time. This is not necessarily because of a lack of academic potential, but rather because of other variables influencing their progress, such as proficiency in the languages of teaching and learning. ICELDA, the language development and testing node of SADiLaR, works to develop tools and resources such as tests, course materials, and an array of language support mechanisms that inform and aid pedagogical endeavours to help students and learners better integrate and acculturate into the academic environment.


  • develops products and services around language testing, reading and writing, logical reasoning, basic numeracy skills, computer and information literacy skills;
  • refines and validates tests, and teaching and learning materials;
  • builds corpora;
  • gives advice on best use of technology in teaching and learning strategies in terms of multimodal language learning, autonomous learning, blended learning and online modes of delivery, as well as new ways of designing and developing language learning tasks in the digital age;
  • promotes multilingualism by designing products, materials and courses that empower teachers, learners, lecturers and students with new skills and knowledge;
  • collaborates and invests in projects that will lead to further research and development of useful products.

Key projects and products

Skryfhulp Afrikaans: ICELDA, in collaboration with the KU Leuven (Belgium), developed an online academic writing tool which aids students in the academic writing process.

South African Multilingual Learner Corpus of Academic Texts (SAMuLCAT): With the contribution of a number of South African universities, ICELDA continues to build a multilingual, multi-level, multi-genre learner corpus of academic writing, of which a sample is annually annotated. The corpus is not only used for research, but it also informs product development.

Write It: Different role players contributed to create this multilingual academic writing support series. It offers a range of teaching-learning resources such as educational videos in all official South African languages (including sign language), worksheets, exercises, and readers to support academic writing.

Multilingual generic academic word list: This word list includes approximately 2 500 lemmas (terms), with part of speech, a definition, and an example. It is available in all official languages and is in use by some South African universities. This list is based upon internationally recognised generic academic word lists, and has been expanded and adjusted for use in the South African context.

Multilingual academic language ability placement and/or diagnostic tests: The ICELDA tests have been validated and are highly reliable. These tests are for use in both higher and secondary education, and they are available in a number of the official South African languages. The ICELDA tests are considered to be state of the art in terms of its design, and used internationally.

Evidence-based outputs and rigorous research

All ICELDA products and projects are based on rigorous research. Numerous academic publications (150 and counting) analyse and discuss various dimensions of ICELDA applied linguistic artefacts, including tests, course materials and tools that have been published in double blind peer-reviewed scientific journals or as chapters in books. These are also well received at both national and international conferences. Postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers are also funded by ICLEDA.

For enquiries on products or for possible collaboration, please contact:

Prof Albert Weideman (Chairperson), University of the Free State
Prof Tobie van Dyk (Operations Director), North-West University
Prof Gustav Butler (Director), North-West University
Dr Avasha Rambiritch (Director), University of Pretoria
Dr Kim Wallmach (Director), Stellenbosch University
Dr Kabelo Sebolai (Co-opted Director), Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Mr DJ Cloete (Co-opted Project Manager), North-West University