Friday, January 21, 2011

Overcoming the Odds: Successful English Language Teaching at University Level in Sub-Saharan Africa

"In most countries in SSA there is an increasing need for universities to be able to produce English speaking graduates. Governments need to recruit employees capable of communicating with other African and overseas governments, international organisations (particularly donor organisations) and foreign investors; while private companies require professionals able to negotiate with international business partners and foreign clients. However, in most non-Anglophone countries students continue to graduate with limited English language skills making it difficult for potential employers to recruit suitable workers and / or forcing them to spend time and money on providing additional language training"
The above was the introduction for the Hornby School workshop hosted by Nileen University from 6-11, November 2010 and organized by the British Council. As one of the trainers in the workshop I felt really lucky to be able meet and sit with teachers from 11 African countries. I think the success of the workshop was not in the quality of sessions but on the number of English language teachers coming from different parts of Africa. There were participants from Eritrea, Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Cameron, Mozambique, South Africa, and Somalia.
This aim of the Hornby School to dovetail the Time for Change conference by looking at practical techniques that teachers can apply to deal with these issues at classroom level in the short and mid-term. In the absence of effective prescribed curricula, the school will also look at what kind of English African students actually need – particularly in the areas of functional English and language skills which teachers tend to neglect – and how teachers can meet these needs.

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