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Summer Institute 2000 Report

The National African Language Resource Center (NALRC) recently hosted its first ever summer institute. The institute, which consisted of three week-long sessions, lasted from June 19-July 7, 2000. The NALRC hosted thirteen Fellows during the institute. The Fellows came from ten different universities across the United States, while the five institute leaders came from four different universities.

As interest in African language learning and teaching increases, so does the need to prepare graduate students and teaching assistants who are planning to pursue African language teaching as a profession. 

The Summer 2000 Institute was designed to help meet this need. It trained fellows in a number of crucial areas central to the effective design and operation of an African Language Program. The purpose of the institute was two-fold: first, to train graduate assistants teaching African languages so that they might be better prepared to meet the challenges inherent in implementing an African Language Program; and second, to produce guidelines for each area covered in the institute. The guidelines are intended to serve as a model for those who wish to develop an African Language Program, create curriculum for such a program, or develop material for the teaching and learning of an African language.

The first week of the institute focused on African Language Program development, coordination and evaluation, the second week examined African language curriculum development and evaluation, and the third week centered on African language material development and evaluation.

The leaders of the African Language Program Development, Coordination and Evaluation Institute were Eyamba Bokamba, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and David Dwyer, Professor of Anthropology, Linguistics and African Studies and Coordinator of the African Language Program at Michigan State University. During this part of the institute, the Fellows were given an overview of the history of African Language Programming in the United States. All aspects of implementing an African Language Program were explored, from administrative and organizational issues to the evaluation of African Language Programs. Each Fellow researched an existing African Language Program and reported his/her findings to the other institute participants. These findings included recommendations for improvements that could strengthen the individual programs. The reports by the Fellows are being compiled into guidelines that will serve as a blueprint for those wishing to develop an African Language Program, or improve upon an existing program.

The Curriculum Development and Evaluation section of the institute was led by Professor Eyamba Bokamba and Charles James, Professor of German at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Institute Fellows were introduced to the history of curriculum development in the United States. They also discussed what a curriculum is, how to meet the goals of a curriculum, and identified particular issues involved in articulating and implementing curriculums for African languages. Fellows were required to write a course description for their individual languages. After this was completed, they each wrote a curriculum for their particular language, choosing either first or second year of that language, and presented it to the other institute participants. These sample curricula will serve as a guide for those developing their own curriculum for the teaching of an African language.

The leaders of the Material Development and Evaluation portion of the institute were Antonia Folarin Schleicher, Professor of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Director of the NALRC, and John Mugane, Professor of Linguistics at Ohio University. The goals of this part of the institute were to prepare the Fellows to provide both a one-year syllabus for their respective languages, and an outline for a textbook they might write in the future. The preparation included discussions of various language-teaching methods, as well as an introduction to current technologies such as CD-Roms and interactive web sites used in language teaching. Working in groups, the Fellows prepared and presented a sample chapter of a textbook for Swahili, Wolof, Chichewa, Twi and Yoruba, as well as an outline of a syllabus for each language. As with the guidelines from the other areas of the institute, these syllabi and sample chapters can assist those who wish to develop their own materials for teaching an African language. The guidelines from all sections of the institute will be published and disseminated by the NALRC.

The institute culminated in an awards ceremony and dinner on Friday, July 7, 2000. Short speeches were given by Antonia Schleicher, director of the NALRC, John Inniss, president of the African Language Teachers' Association (ALTA), Eyamba Bokamba, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, Associate Dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at UW-Madison. Certificates were presented to: David Adu-Amankwah (Indiana University), Fatou Angela Brown (Yale University), Amadou Fofana (Indiana University), Kristi Hobson (UW-Madison), John Inniss (Delaware State University and Johns Hopkins University), Laxford Kajuna (Ohio University), Sau Lugano (Penn State University), Dean Makuluni (UW-Madison), Khalfan Mohammed (Indiana University), Judith Mmari (University of Oregon), Angaluki Muaka (Indiana University), Fallou Ngom (UIUC) and Leonce Rushubirwa (University of Georgia).