Reflection on the Summer Institute

Samuel Darkwa

Mo ho te sen? Ba wo ni? Sanibona? Hamjambo? Moloyi? To say we have experienced language immersion, these salutations are just the tip of the iceberg,looking at the volume of what we have received these few days. Prior to this year’s Summer Institute, teaching a second language was a very daunting task award_nite_264for some of us. We often found it difficult toknow what matters most in teaching the languages we speak so fluently to others. From this institute wehave learned that second/foreign language teaching is indeed an art.

 

We learned how to teach the four skills – speaking, listening, writing, and reading – in the second/foreign language classroom. We also have learned how to test these four skills, and in addition to these, how to planour lessons, and, also, classroom management. We have come to realize that the secret to a successful second language instruction lies in how best one uses the teaching aids and the appropriate gestures, and, also, how the teacher is able to build on previous knowledge of students. We also have come to realize that teaching is an art that requires humor and naturalness. I recall a moment when Sister Biyela was teaching about the weather in Zulu after our lunch time. Though done in the target language, the teaching aids, appropriate gestures, and humor around the lesson kept the class enraptured. We were able tograsp everything from the beginning to the end.

 

This year’s summer institute witnessed the teaching of ten different African languages. This shows thatthe NALRC is indeed living her mission of promoting African language instruction and learning globally. Each participant brought in a very unique array of experiences. The micro teaching sessions, which were followed with constructive feedback from both the instructors and colleague participants, were very useful. What is interesting is the fact that this institute has given us a very unique opportunity to forge life-long connections. I must say that the bonds forged and the fellow-filling at this institute have been fantastic.This relationship means so much to all of us that we see ourselves as if it were a year-long group from a particular institution ready to impact our field in unity. We have just been together for barely two weeks andit seems like we have been together forever; we are already a family.

 

At this time I would like to profoundly thank Professor Antonia Yetunde Folarin Schleicher for her invaluable support and her immense contributions to the teaching and learning of African languages globally. Professor E karo’o. The opportunity offered us by the NALRC could be described as one of themost fortunate things that have impacted our career development. We appreciate the staff of the NALRCfor making it possible for this year’s Summer Institute to happen. Your selflessness and professionalism are incomparable. What do we say about the dual instructors, SteveTimm and Joe Nosek? You guys are really wonderful; you combine skill with humor, such that learning becomes fun. In sum, one could say that teaching is an art. Our knowledgeable and experienced instructors- Steve and Joe - know what it takes to carry the class along. We salute you. We shall always respect you and take everything we have learned from you to great heights.

 

Finally, I would like to profoundly thank my colleagues for their hard work during the sessions. Your zeal, your discipline, and can-do spirit were unprecedented.The experience was great; I can only say that we came empty, but we are leaving full. We came as novices, but we have made giant strides and are ready to impact your generation. To NALRC and our able instructors, I say: Y.daase, Asante sana, thank you.