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Summer Institute 2003 Report


The National African Language Resource Center (NALRC) recently held its fourth annual summer institute. The three-week institute lasted from June 2 to June 20, 2003. The NALRC hosted twenty fellows during the institute. The Fellows came from twelve different Institutions across the United States, France (Europe), and Nigeria (Africa). There were educators from both US Universities and foriegn ones.

The field of African language pedagogy is rapidly growing. We have started witnessing increased interest both in the teaching and learning of African language - this is indeed a great breakthrough. However, it poses a great challenge for us to invigorate our "Teach the Teachers" program. One good way of doing this is by training graduate students and teaching assistants who are planning to pursue African language teaching as a profession. This is the goal of the Summer 2003 Institute. It trained fellows in a number of crucial areas central to the effective design and operation of an African Language Program. It also provided the fellows with hands- on training of various aspects of language pedagogy.

The first week of the institute focused on Program Development and Evaluation. This portion of the institute was led by Prof. Eyamba Bokamba from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign who discussed the topic: "African Language Program Development, Coordination and Evaluation. This teaching provided an in-depth look into the development of African Language Programs in the U.S; creating viable programs in African Languages, and program coordination and evaluation. The fellows were also taught how to prepare syllabi for African Languages and the strategic sustainability of African Language Programs. The practical and microteaching demonstrations by fellows confirmed the knowledge that has been acquired in the areas of being able to evaluate existing Programs in African Languages and being able to recommend changes that could positively affect the growth of African Language Programs in the nation.

The second week of the institute focused on the teaching of the Productive skills (Speaking and Writing) in the African Language Classroom. This session was led by Prof. Sandy Arfa from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This teaching emphasizes both explicit and implicit integration of language learning and use of different strategies and different teaching methodologies in the language classroom. The approach aims to assist fellows in becoming more effective in their efforts to teach their students while concentrating on using the target language. Fellows learned hands-on activities for teaching different productive skills in their respective African language classrooms.

The third week of the institute focused on the teaching of the Receptive skills (Listening and Reading) in the African Language Classroom, which was led by Prof. Gail Ibele from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. This teaching also emphasized both explicit and implicit integration of language learning and use of different strategies and teaching methodologies on Listening and Reading in the language classrooms. The approach aims to assist fellows in becoming more effective in their efforts to teach their students these receptive skills, while concentrating on using the target language. Fellows acquired new knowledge on how to teach these skills in a language classroom. The fellows were able to demonstrate their teaching strategies in order to reflect what has already been taught on the skills as it affects the language classroom. The fellows had microteaching demonstrations of all the four skills taught during the three-week period.

The overall goal of this summer 2003 institute was to help provide strategies-based instruction in the African language classroom. Through a series of lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities, fellows received practical training techniques for: (1) facilitating discussions and awareness of the development and effectiveness of African Language Program (2) creating a syllabus, content and context, creating a positive classroom environment and setting course expectations and standards , (3) introducing and reinforcing systematic strategic use of the four skills in the African language classroom, and (4) improving their students' awareness of strategies and learning style preferences as reflected in the four skills.

During the summer 2003 institute, fellows were encouraged to use their own language learning and teaching experiences to understand the concepts being presented. A Resource Handbook on creating syllabi for African language courses represented in the summer 2003 institute for the beginning, intermediate and advance levels, is currently being developed. The Resource Handbook is a compilation of syllabi materials to be submitted by the fellows. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for African language educators to share standard teaching/learning ideas and materials.

The summer institute culminated in an awards ceremony and dinner, chaired by Professor Uli Schamiloglu, Director of Central Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison on Friday, June 20, 2003. Short speeches were given by Professor Antonia Schleicher, Director of the NALRC, Professor Aliko Songolo, Director of African Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Professor Judith Komblatt, Associate Dean of Humanities; Graduate school, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor Eyamba Bokamba, Associate Head, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, and Professor Magdalena Hauner, the Chair of the Department of African Languages and Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reflections were given by the fellows through their representatives, and Certificates were presented to: Adeniyi, Harrison (Lagos State University, Nigeria.), Alao, George (INALCO, France), Backman, Stephen(Michigan State University ), Beyene, Zewdineh (University of California, Berkeley), Bwenge, Charles (University of Princeton), Diakite, Boubacar (Indiana University), Diallo Youssouf (Ohio University), Fatuyi, Esther (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Guguni, Francis (University of California, Berkeley), Hlongwa, Tholani (UIUC), Kambon Obadele (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Matondo, Masango (University of California, Los Angeles), Mpondi, Douglas (Ohio University), Muaka, Leonard (UIUC), Mwita, Mahiri (St. Lawrence University), Okbatsion, Dawit (University of Florida- Gainesville), Otiato, Peter (Ohio University), Owu-Ewie, Charles (Ohio University), Smouse, Rose (University of Florida- Gainesville), and Sow, Paap .A. (University of California, Berkeley).

With the tremendous success of our Summer 2003 Institute, the fourth in the series of institutes organized by the NALRC, we are sure that the field of African Language pedagogy will benefit from the expertise of the institute fellows.