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Summer Institute 2008 Report

Now in its 9th year, the NALRC Summer Institute, a two-week program designed to develop the skills essential for teaching an African language, recently came to its conclusion. This year's institute was held from May 27th through June 6th on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wisconsin. The institute was comprised of fourteen fellows, ranging from graduate students with aspirations to teach to seasoned educators with years of teaching experience. The fellows participating in the institute arrived representing nine different universities from all across the world. Languages taught at this years institute included Arabic, Swahili, Wolof and Yoruba.

The instructors for this year's institute were Joe Nosek and Steve Timm, ESL instructors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This year marked the duo's third consecutive year leading the institute. Under their guidance, the institute focused on several key areas, including the implementation of reading, writing, listening and speaking in a classroom setting. Furthermore, the instructors addressed effective methods of assessment of students, lesson planning, and overall classroom management. With the collaborative learning environment comprised of Nosek, Timm, and the fourteen fellows, the institute was able to equip the participants with these tools and more. By the conclusion of the institute, participants left with a deeper understanding of the need for a student-centered learning environment, innovation in the classroom, and to constantly reflect on what works best for a particular group of learners. One of the most unique aspects of the institute was that it allows the fellows to view language learning through the eyes of the student, receiving instruction from their peers in all of the languages represented. With the instructors as their guides, and the contributions of the peers, the fellows saw their teaching abilities enhance dramatically.

A ceremony to honor and celebrate the progress and achievements of the fellows was held on Tuesday, June 3rd in Bascom Hall, located in the heart of the UW-Madison campus. Participants, family members, and guests, many dressed in traditional African attire, were welcomed to the banquet by the sounds of popular African musicians. The ceremony began with opening remarks from Professor Antonia Schleicher, Director of the NALRC, and Professor Sandra Arfa, Director of the English as a Second Language program. Schleicher and Arfa both noted the positive impact which the Summer Institute continues to have on the advancement of African language teaching, expressing their pride to have the NALRC and English as a Second Language Programs working so closely together to promote this goal.

Following this, the cultural performances part of the evening got underway. Joe Nosek and Rolando Urioeste began with a blues performance, demonstrating their musical abilities both individually and collaboratively. The Yoruba group then performed a lively play, “Asa Yoruba”. Continuing the cultural performance segment of the night was Youness Mountaki, reading a poem in Arabic. Martin Njoroge then recited an original poem which he wrote specifically for the occasion. Olusola Adekola and Titlayo Ayoola Shotonwa then surprised everyone with an unexpected and moving farewell song. The next portion of the evening was the reflections, where several participants got up to share their memories and experiences of the Institute. Reflections were heard from Jamie A.E. Thomas, Omoniyi Afolabi, Amal El Haimeur, and Youness Mountaki. Joe Nosek and Steve Timm followed this up by demonstrating their versatility in language with their “Performance and Speech Act,” cleverly integrating all of the languages represented at the Institute into one coherent performance. The ceremony came to its conclusion with the closing remarks by Hapsatou Wane, who reiterated the profound impact of the Institute on the teaching abilities of the fellows. Everyone then enjoyed a dinner prepared by the newly opened Africana Restaurant and Lounge located in Madison, Wisconsin.

In only two short weeks, the 2008 NALRC Summer Institute was able to provide the fourteen fellows with the crucial tools necessary to succeed as an educator of an African language. The NALRC is proud to be a part of the progress made by the fellows this year, and are already looking forward to next year's institute. The following individuals completed the 2008 Summer Institute and received certificates of completion from the NALRC.

Amal El Haimeur (Arabic), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Youness Mountaki (Arabic), Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

Jamie A.E. Thomas (Swahili), Michigan State University

Martin Chege Njoroge (Swahili), University of Pennsylvania

Agnes C. Kimokoti (Swahili), Five College Center for the Study of  World Languages

Loyd Mbabu (Swahili), University of Michigan

Hapsatou Wane (Wolof), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Omoniyi O. Afolabi (Yoruba), University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Aderoju Adepoju (Yoruba), Lagos State Radio Service, Nigeria

Titilayo Ayoola Shotonwa (Yoruba), Lagos State Radio Service, Nigeria

Olusola Adekola (Yoruba), Lagos State Radio Service, Nigeria

Abayomi Animashaun (Yoruba), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Adedoyin Ogunfeyimi (Yoruba), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Olayinka Olagbegi (Yoruba), University of Wisconsin-Madison