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Summer Institute 2010 Report

NALRC hosted the 11th Annual 2010 Summer Institute from May 24th to June 4th at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The goal of the two week program was to keep up the interest in African Language and teaching, to prepare graduate students, as well as teaching assistants who are planning to pursue African Language Teaching as a profession and faculty members in the field who needed retooling. All of these goals were focused on an approach directed towards undergraduate English speaking Americans. 
The program began with a theoretical instruction to achieve the goals of the workshop. This was done by going over some teaching techniques. Then each participant taught a mini lesson to their fellow peers in their languages. This continued for the entire workshop, going back and forth between theoretical learning and practical teaching.

The topics covered include - Teaching the skills of speaking and listening in the African Language classroom; teaching the skills of writing and reading in the African language classroom; testing and assessing the four skills in the African Language classroom and; lesson planning and classroom management.

The institute was comprised of 20 fellows from across the United States. The languages that were represented include  Amharic, Arabic, Swahili, Twi, Wolof, Yoruba and Zulu. The fellows were privileged to have Gail Ibele and Steve Timm from the University of Wisconsin as instructors. Both instructors were highly motivated and energetic guiders for the institute members.

In the first week, the fellows learned how to teach beginning and intermediate level students in a communicative style. This week the focus was on how to teach oral skills. Each instructor for the workshop made their own example of how to teach a foreign language to this level, and then the participants created three mini lessons for the first week. These lessons were each 15 minutes where they took each participant, and the NALRC staff that was in the room at the time, from no understanding of the language to greetings, to other basic level understanding.

In the second week, there were more mini lessons given by the participants, this time with a more reading and writing focus. In addition the participants learned about class planning and organization. They learned how to set an objective for the day for both their benefit and for their student's benefits. Finally the week ended with instruction on how to prepare tests, and what level the instructors should expect their students to be at for each level in addition to syllabus planning for each participant.

An award ceremony was held high atop Bascom Hill in Bascom Hall on June 4th. Each participant came dressed in their finest, some bringing along family to celebrate the completion of the course. After opening remarks from Professor Schleicher, Director of the NALRC and Professor of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin Madison, and Professor Jacques Du Plessis, Chair of the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), the ceremony began. It started with cultural performances in Arabic, Amharic, Zulu, and Yoruba. This was then followed by all of the members of the institute joining together to sing a song in parts, each singing in their language. Next up were reflections about the institute by Alex Zito, Fehintola Masadomi, Scott Edmondson, LaKeisha Caples, Lydiah Kiramba, and Sofia Samatar. Each speaker had a profound idea to express from the institute. Some commented about the lack of education in the United States about Africa, others commented about how this institute is good even for the veterans who have been teaching for years. All of them agreed that this had been a life changing experience, and that they would miss the rest of the participants. 

After the moving speeches by the fellows, a comical performance was given by Steve Timm and Gail Ibele showing exactly what they learned from the institute. This was followed by Steve Timm reading off poetic raps he had written about each participant. Every one was laughing, no matter what language they spoke.

Finally Professor Eyamba Bokama from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign handed out the certificates. Closing remarks about the institute were said by Abdul Naji from Cornell University, a member of the institute. He pressed the importance of keeping African languages alive in order to maintain African culture, and praised Professor Schleicher for helping making that need met at this institute. He also pressed that this isn't enough, that we have to keep going and keep pushing for more notice for African Languages, particularly with in Africa itself.

The following fellows received certificates of completion from the NALRC:

Telahun Gebrehiwot - Harvard & Boston University (Amharic)
Abiyot Debebe Seifu - University of Florida (Amharic)
Sofia Samatar - University of Wisconsin Madison (Arabic)
Tarek Ziadna - University of Wisconsin Madison (Arabic)
LaKeisha Caples - University of Wisconsin Madison (Kiswahili)
Anna Chikoti - University of Wisconsin Madison (Kiswahili)
Jecha Haji Jecha - Indiana University (Kiswahili)
Lydiah Kananu Kiramba - University of Illinois (Kiswahili)
Ramadhan A. Kututwa - University of Howard (Kiswahili)
Nuru Magoma - Department of State of Foreign Service Inst. (Kiswahili)
Abdul Nanji - Cornell University (Kiswahili)
James G. Njoroge - University of California, Berkeley (Kiswahili)
Scott M. Edmondson - University of Michigan (Twi) 
Alex M. Zito - Boston University (Wolof)
Gabriel O. Ayoola - University of Wisconsin Madison (Yoruba)
Fehintola Masadomi - University of Texas- Austin (Yoruba)
Clement Oyeleke Odoje - University of Wisconsin Madison (Yoruba)
Olusegun Soetan - University of Wisconsin Madison (Yoruba) 
Sindisiwe Lorraine Lekoba - Indiana University (Zulu)
Doctor M. Katamzi - Boston University (Zulu)

Echoes from the Institute in photo panaroma could be viewed HERE