Digital Language Education in South Africa: The Yizani isiXhosa Learning Platform

The Yizani isiXhosa Learning Platform project was a blended learning product to equip second language teachers with innovative tools to teach isiXhosa, one of South Africa’s native languages. The Western Cape Education Department initiated the proposal, and as the Product Owner, I played a pivotal role in managing product development.

Utilizing a robust design approach was crucial in ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the Yizani isiXhosa Learning Platform. To accomplish this, the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) was employed as the instructional design framework. SAM, known for its iterative process, guided the planning, development, and refinement stages of the learning content and platform


The primary objective of the Yizani isiXhosa Learning Platform was to create an intuitive, resource-rich platform that supports teachers in delivering effective isiXhosa second language education. In my role as Product Owner, responsibilities encompassed managing all aspects of product development, including researching teacher requirements, forming partnerships with an isiXhosa language teaching specialist, and developing a product prototype.


  1. Research Phase: The project was initiated with extensive research to gauge the needs of teachers and the Western Cape Education Department. This was in alignment with SAM’s ‘Preparation Phase,’ where understanding the audience, goals, and constraints is fundamental.
  2. Partnerships and Planning: In the ‘Iterative Design Phase’ of SAM, a project plan was developed, and a partnership was forged with an isiXhosa language teaching specialist. This phase is essential in SAM as it focuses on collaboration, prototyping, and ensuring cultural and linguistic accuracy.
  3. Content Development: In SAM’s ‘Iterative Development Phase,’ a comprehensive blended learning product was developed. SAM emphasizes the need to be flexible and adaptable in content development. We developed readers, worksheets, videos, audio clips, and pronunciation guides, continually refining and improving content through iterations.
  4. Platform Development: Aligned with SAM’s ‘Implementation Phase,’ the content was integrated into a user-friendly desktop app. It was developed as a Progressive Web App (PWA), ensuring that iterative feedback was incorporated, and the platform provided seamless learning material access.


One of the significant challenges faced was the development of instructional videos and the programming of the interface. Collaborating with an instructional video company and a programmer was essential. Upskilling in interface design and instructional video production was vital to executing the project successfully. These challenges were addressed by harnessing the expertise of specialists and actively expanding my skill set.

Adhering to the SAM model, iterative troubleshooting was employed to tackle the challenges faced during development. Collaboration and upskilling, emphasized in SAM, were crucial in overcoming these hurdles.


The Yizani isiXhosa Learning Platform was developed on time and effectively met the customer’s needs. The project culminated in an innovative blended learning platform that provides teachers with a rich array of tools for teaching isiXhosa to young learners. By aiding in language education, the platform contributes to cultural preservation and understanding.

The Yizani isiXhosa Learning Platform stands as a landmark project in language education. Through meticulous research, collaboration, and a commitment to innovation, a blended learning product was developed that empowers teachers and enriches the learning experience for students. This project exemplifies how technology can be harnessed to preserve culture and foster global communication.

Employing the SAM in designing the Yizani isiXhosa Learning Platform was instrumental in the project’s success. The iterative nature of SAM allowed for continuous refinement and adaptation, ensuring a product that not only met customer needs but also maintained cultural integrity. Moreover, SAM’s emphasis on collaboration and flexibility facilitated an efficient response to challenges and the development of a cutting-edge learning platform.

Short video demonstration of some of the key features

Leave a Reply