From the Director

Dr. Antonia Folarin Schleicher

It is a great pleasure to offer you the eleventh volume of our annual newsletter, ULIMI. In this issue, we will be summarizingall of our accomplishments in the past year as we normally do. We are delighted to have been refunded by the US Department of Education as a Title VI Language Resource Center (LRC). This is the fourth cycle of LRC funding for the NALRC since it began in 1999.

ALRC’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 initiated the Training of Trainers’ workshop led by Prof Eyamba Bokamba and Prof Jacques Du Plessis.


The Training of Trainers workshop, was held from June 1-4, 2010 and was conducted in two parts. The first part of the workshop was for capacity building in specific skills involving African language program development, creation, administration, and evaluation. The sessions were intended to equip each novice or mid-career African language coordinator/director to become an informed and critical analyst of his or her Program in African Languages (PAL). The workshop aimed to eventually enable attendees to utilize these skills to serve as an external reviewer of PALs at other institutions after, perhaps, a brief period of being shadowed by an experienced evaluator. The second part of this workshop focused on Technology Material Development, which gives you a grasp and functional understanding of open resources and tools to enhance your instruction of foreign languages. STARTALK, Summer Swahili Professional Development Program, instructed by Alwiya Saleh Omar and John Kiarie Wa’Njogu, was also held this summer in the month of July.


Specializing in professional development opportunities for new as well as experienced teachers, the NALRC has 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, as well as learn from other teachers of LCTLs and share larger pedagogical concerns.
Our Materials Development this year will be growing with the publication of five new textbooks; namely: Let’s Speak Bemba, Let’s Speak Chichewa, Let’s Speak Ndebele, Let’s Speak Siswati and Let’s Speak Igbo.


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 our new publicationsand many thanks to the professional development workshop leaders: Steve Timm and Gail Ibele, leaders of the 2010 Summer Institute, Professors Eyamba Bokamba and Jacques du Plessis who led the Training of Trainers’ workshop, and to the leaders of Startalk, Alwiya Saleh Omar, John Kiarie Wa’Njog and myself, as well as the seasoned leaders of the NCOLCTL-ALTA Conference.


I also extend my gratitude to the team behind the scenes: the NALRC’s Assistant Director, Isaac Akere, NCOLCTL Assistant Director, Nyasha Gwaza, Technology Coordinator, John Adeika, and other Student Assistants and volunteers in the persons . of Carla Schleicher, Melinda Capperino, Sophie Hillman and Kasey Jean Kapitanek.

 

The details of the major NALRC accomplishments of this past year in the areas of Professional and Materials Development, the conferences and other NALRC’s initiatives will be given in this edition. We always welcome and appreciate feedback from our readers, as it helps us to strengthen our center and field. Asante, E seun, Jerejef, Medasi, Shukran, Zikomo, Maita.

Thank you.