Summer Institute 2002 Report
The National African Language Resource Center (NALRC) recently held its third annual summer institute. The two-week institute lasted from June 3 to June 14, 2002. The NALRC hosted 16 fellows during the institute. The Fellows came from nine different Institutions across the United States, South Africa, and Ghana. There were four Institute leaders from two different Universities in the US.
The field of African language pedagogy has witnessed increased growth within the last few years. More people are showing interest in the field. As a result, there is a great need for training teachers to teach the language. Many of the instructors of African languages are linguists and thus are not so familiar with language pedagogy. Hence the NALRC annual Summer Institutes have become an avenue for these instructors to participate in professional development activities to enhance their teaching of African languages. This year was not an exception. We received many applications for the Summer Institute and had to select a few on a competitive basis. This year's Summer Institute yielded unprecedented results as both the participants and leaders contributed immensely to its success.
Prof. Eyamba Bokamba from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign started the institute by taking the participants through a challenging and interesting area of the field. He let the first week of the Institute on 'African Language Program Development, Administration & Evaluation." Participants engaged in activities and presentations based on this topic. Some of the issues discussed were: The development of Programs in African Languages in the U.S., Creating Viable Programs in African Languages, Program Administration and Evaluation as well as Strategic Sustainability. At the end of the Institute, the participants were well equipped to evaluate existing Programs in African Languages and to recommend changes that could positively affect the growth of African Language Programs in the nation.
In the second week, Professor Antonia Schleicher from the University of Wisconsin-Madison started the Institute on African Language Curriculum Development & Evaluation. She engaged the fellows on several interesting issues in Curriculum Development. Some of the issues discussed were: What African Language Do We Teach and How Many Levels? What Are The Goals of Our Language Instruction (Identifying Desired Results)? What Constitutes Acceptable Evidence That The Goals Have Been Achieved By the Students (Assessment)? What Are The Learning Activities (Method)? She discussed extensively the use of Backward Curriculum Design (BCD) for effective Curriculum Development and Evaluation.
The last Institute held was on African Language Material Development and Evaluation. With the increase in African language learners, there is a great need for the development of more textual and technology materials to meet this need. Prof. Schleicher started the session with issues dealing with the objectives of learning an African Language, Theories of Second Language Acquisition and Material Development as well as Evaluation of the Material. Olusola Adesope and Anand Prithivathi later worked with the participants on how to develop multimedia technology material to enhance the textbooks. It was a "hands on" experience as participants were taught how to convert raw video material into a digital form suitable for developing multimedia materials like CD-ROM using Macromedia Director.
The Institute came to a close with an awards ceremony and dinner on Friday, June 14, 2002. Prof. Antonia Schleicher, Director of the NALRC, gave the Welcoming Remarks and also introduced the Chair of the Ceremony, Professor Aliko Songolo. The Awards Ceremony this year witnessed the presence of Dr. Philip Certain, Dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He gave a speech admiring the great role the Center is playing in the development of African languages not only at the University of Wisconsin-Madison but throughout the nation. He challenged the participants to be good ambassadors of African language Pedagogy. Certificates were presented to: Akinloye Ojo (University of Georgia-Athens), Amma Oduro (University of California, Berkeley), Augustine Bugase (St. John Bosco's Training College, Ghana), Charles Bwenge (University of Virginia), Fraisic Agbakey (Keta Secondary School, Ghana), John Njue(University of Iowa), Josephine Yambi (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Kole Ade Odutola (Rutgers University), Martin Tenkorang (Atibie Methodist School, Ghana), Mouna Sari (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Mustafa Mughazy (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Sheila Mmusi (University of the Noth, South Africa), Thandiwe Kunutu (University of Wittwatersrand, South Africa), Unoma Azuah (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond), Zoliswa Olga Mali (University of Iowa)
The Summer 2002 Institute has come and gone but the memories left behind will still be felt for years to come. The participants left with the determination for a "better tomorrow" for the field of African Language Pedagogy.