From the Director
It is a great pleasure to offer you the tenth volume of our annual newsletter, ULIMI. In this issue, we will be summarizing all of our accomplishments in the past year as we normally do. We would like to continue our appreciation of the International Education and Graduate Programs Service (IEGPS) of the Department of Education for making the NALRC and all of its activities possible.
NALRC's interest in professional development is outstanding and we are proud to say that our contribution in this area is transforming African language programs as well as many other less-commonly taught languages (LCTL) programs. As our custom for the past years, we hosted the annual conference of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL) and our usual professional development workshops. This year, we started the African Languages Flagship Program in collaboration with Howard University. We also initiated a Multimedia Materials Development Training for African language instructors. This workshop equipped participants with multimedia skills, especially in the context of Web-based instruction. They learned to make animated gifs, edit digital photos and use a drawing program to create items to support their instructional objectives. They also learned to record themselves in order to make exceptional audio streams. Lastly, they learned how to produce computer-based videos with captions, pauses to practice, and to enhance interactivity to really get their students' attention. The instructor was Jacques du Plessis from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and the participating scholars were: Zoliswa Mali, Kazeem Sanuth, Sibongile Magwaza, Esameddin Alhadi, Akinsola Ogundeji, Moses Olateju, Abdou Omar, Alwiya Omar, Telahun Gebrehiwot, Betty Sibongile Dlamini, Sarah Mkhonza, Sam Mchombo, and Francis Lukhele.
The Summer NALRC Institute was held for two weeks beginning from May 26, 2009 to June 5, 2009 and was led by Steve Timm and Joe Nosek. The institute was attended by Hicham El Majdi, Betty Dlamini, Sarah Mkhonza, Fabienne Diouf, Happiness Bulugu, Moses Adegbola, Moses Olataeju, Olagoke Alamu, Nobuhle Hlongwa, Kazeem Sanuth, Buyiswa Mini, Beatrice Okelo, Mary Gordon, Babusa Hamisi, Bilal Ali Humeidan, Sibongile Magwaza, and Levi Ofoe.
A new addition to these workshops was the STARTALK Summer Swahili Professional Development Program. The instructors at STARTALK were Antonia Folarin Schleicher, Alwiya Saleh Omar, and John Kiarie Wa’Njogu. The participants at this workshop were: Beatrice Okelo, Happiness Bulugu, Beatrice Bolger, Merchades Rutechura, Babusa Hamisi, Marko Mwipopo, Abdul Nanji, Francis Wangendo, and Zablon Mgonja.
NALRC began hosting the orientation program for Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs) in 2007. The event has since been a huge success and we organized two orientation sessions this year. The NALRC is making a direct impact on foreign language programs across the country by seizing the opportunity to train teaching assistants before their first day of classes. We are confident that FLTAs who attend our workshops are better prepared to teach than those who don't have that opportunity. Any teacher of an African language that has not had this training should contact us immediately in order to benefit from our annual Summer Institute for African Language Instructors.
NALRC specializes in professional development opportunities for new as well as experienced teachers. We have been actively involved in advancing the skills of these experienced teachers by hosting the NCOLCTL conference in collaboration with the African Language Teachers Association (ALTA) conference. The joint conference was an ideal way for ALTA members to interact with each other and share ideas for enriching the field, furthermore, to learn from other teachers of LCTLs and share larger pedagogical concerns.
The NALRC made a major stride in materials development this year with the publication of Ibro Chekarou's Mu Zanta Da Harshen Hausa. This is the first Let's Speak Hausa textbook we have published, and we hope that there are many more to come. Students of Hausa can now utilize NALRC texts to study the language and speak it fluently. Wolof students all over the country can also benefit from the publication of Omar Ka's Let's Speak Wolof. Let's Speak Bemba, Let's Speak Chichewa, Let's Speak Ndebele. Let's Speak Siswati and Let’s Speak Igbo are in progress and are due to come out this coming year.
I extend my profound gratitude to the many African language scholars around the world who contributed to the accomplishments of the NALRC. These include authors of the latest books from the NALRC press; Ibro Chekarou and Omar Ka as well as professional development workshop leaders. Many inspiring sessions were possible only through the hard work of instructors like Steve Timm and Joe Nosek, leaders of the Summer Institute. Jacques du Plessis, leader of the Summer Multimedia workshop. Alwiya Saleh Omar and John Kiarie Wa Njogu, leaders of Startalk as well as leaders of the NCOLCTL-ALTA Workshop.
I also extend my gratitude to the team behind the scenes: the NALRC's Administrative Manager Isaac Akere, Project Coordinator Modupe Olubiyi, Zack Zenk - Technology Assistant, Laura Vitelli - Student Assistant, and volunteers in the persons of Carla Schleicher, Victoria Olubiyi, and Matthew H. Brown.
What follows in this edition of ULIMI details the major NALRC accomplishments of this past year, namely materials development, the NCOLCTL-ALTA conference, the African Languages Multimedia workshop, the Summer Institute, Swahili Startalk and some new NALRC initiatives. We always welcome and appreciate feedback from our readers, as it helps us to strengthen our center and our field. Asante, E seun, Jerejef, Medasi, Shukran, Zikomo and Maita.