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Applied Linguistics and Literacy in
Africa and the Diaspora

An AILA Research

Juliet Tembe (Islamic University in Uganda)

Juliet Tembe (Islamic University in Uganda)

Jacinta Ndambuki, (University of the Witwatersrand)

Willy Ngaka (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Dipo Salami, (Obafemi Awolowo University)

Kate Adoo-Adeku (University of Ghana)

JeDene Reeder (SIL International)

Gregory Kamwendo, (University of Botswana)

Violet Lunga, (University of Botswana)

Bonny Norton (University of British Columbia)

Espen Stranger-Johannessen (University of British Columbia)


Dear ReN Members,

I am pleased to present your April newsletter. As you recall, in the last newsletter we informed you of change in editorship. Lauryn Oates, who completed her doctoral studies at UBC, has been editor of the ReN Africa Newsletter since its inception in October 2007. We thank her for the tremendous job she did to bring us this far. Congratulations Lauryn, and keep us posted on your literacy research. This is also a good time to reflect on what our network has achieved thus far and what direction we should take in the future. We value feedback from readers on issues in our field of literacy and language development. We therefore wish to remind you of our survey at Please take a few minutes to respond to it.

February 21 is UN designated International Mother Tongue day. No doubt the day is marked across Africa in diverse ways. We bring you highlights of some of the events of this day as celebrated by the Leblango language community in Uganda.

There are a number of conferences coming up that you should not miss out so that you disseminate your research. This issue also features a number of language tools, and highlights some publications: the Pan African Localization Project; the Swahili Manuscripts Database, as well as publication on Lexical expansion from Makerere university.

We wish you good reading and the best in your research endeavors. Keep us posted with submissions for the October newsletter (next deadline is August 15th, 2013).

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Juliet Tembe

News and Announcements from ReN Members


Education For All: Beyond 2015 Mapping Current International Actions to Define the Post-2015 Education and Development Agendas was prepared for the CCNGO (Collective Consultation of NGOs)/EFA meeting at UNESCO Paris that took place late in October. It can be accessed at:


World Inequality Database on Education

Post-2015: Launch of e-Discussion on Governance and Financing of Education + Final report of the addressing inequalities consultation. Synthesis Report on the Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequality

Please find the link to the Final Report of the Addressing Inequalities Consultation, co-led by UN Women and UNICEF as one of the eleven thematic consultations of the UNDG Post-2015 consultations. This report is the outcome of multiple stakeholder consultations, including a series of 10 e-discussions on various aspects of inequalities, and also the synthesis of 176 submitted papers to the consultation.



April 2013 Member Profile

Name: Dr. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa

Position: Senior Lecturer; Current Head of Department, Publishing Studies & Vice Dean, Faculty of Art

Institution: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

Dr. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa did his doctoral studies from the University of Reading, UK, where he explored teacher–pupils–text interactions in a multilingual classroom context. He has broad and versatile research interests, which include: development communication, educational publishing, textbooks policy and development, classroom and instructional communication, mother tongue/bilingual education, materials development and language and literacy development. He edits for CASS Journal of Humanities, a new international scholarly/academic journal recently started by the College of Art and Social Sciences, KNUST. He has also reviewed papers for journals, including Language, Culture and Curriculum; Language and Education; and Legon Journal of Humanities. His recent publications include: What Happens to Textbooks in the Classroom? Pupils Access to Literacy in an Urban Primary School in Ghana (2010); Pedagogy, Culture and Society. Vol. 18 No. 2 149-160; and English-only Language-in-Education Policy in multilingual classrooms in Ghana (2009). Language Culture and Curriculum Vol. 22 No. 2 121-135



Upcoming Conferences and Events

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What: Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner BEtreat professional development workshops on networks, communities and social learning to South Africa

When: May 14 – 17 & May 20 – 23, 2013.

Where: Fynbos Estate retreat near Cape Town

Summary: Etienne is best known for his seminal work on communities of practice and social learning theory. Bev is best known for her pioneering work in international settings, learning across boundaries, and the use of social media. This is the first time that these workshops have been offered outside the USA. 

Contact information:

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Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Espen:Desktop:Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 12.39.49 PM.pngWhat: The 9th International Symposium on Bilingualism will be hosted in Singapore

When:  10-13 June 2013

Where: Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Summary: The theme of the 9th ISB Symposium is Multilingualism, which reflects Singapore's status as a thriving language hub. Singapore is the essence of what ISB is all about as it is home to at least 20 different languages. Most Singaporeans are bilingual and many are multilingual. Due to its historical and geographical position as a meeting point of many
cultures, the linguistic landscape of Singapore has long been fascinating to scholars for many decades. More importantly, Singapore is located at the heart of the world's most linguistically diverse region making it an excellent stage for the types of issues and debates we hear in ISB meetings.

Deadline: Passed.

Contact information:

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Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Espen:Desktop:Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 12.39.49 PM.pngWhat: 8th Pan African Reading for All Conference

When: August 12–16, 2013.

Where: University of Nairobi, Kenya Science Campus

Summary: The conference purpose is to develop ways of translating “Education for All” into “Reading for All.” The conference will provide a forum for teachers, writers, librarians, educators, researchers, publishers and local and international development workers to showcase innovative literacy strategies and techniques that have continually made a positive impact on literacy development across Africa. More importantly, sharing and documenting research findings, lasting knowledge solutions and best practices on literacy will not only be strengthened but also be critical in teasing out what is working and what is not in order to have a more coordinated and streamlined approach to literacy in Africa.

Contact Information: Request a proposal form from

Organizers: Association of Reading of Kenya (ARK), International Development Committee - Africa (IDC-A), and the International Reading Association (IRA)

Deadline for proposals: Passed

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Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Espen:Desktop:Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 12.39.49 PM.pngWhat: 10th International Language and Development Conference: Opportunity, Equity and Identity beyond 2015

When: October 15–17, 2013

Where: Lagoon Beach Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

Summary: The International Language and Development conferences have been held every two years since 1993, except for 2007, and bring together professionals and practitioners who are interested in the role languages play in development work.

The 10th Conference in the series will be only the second to be convened in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will coincide with reviews of progress towards the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by development professionals and policymakers worldwide as the 2015 MDG deadline approaches.

Contact information:

Organizers: British Council South Africa

Deadline for submissions: May 31, 2013

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Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Espen:Desktop:Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 12.39.49 PM.pngWhat: Fifth Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching

When: October 3-5, 2013

Where: Banff, Alberta, Canada

Summary: Plenary Speakers include Martin Bygate (Lancaster University), Heidi Byrnes (Georgetown University) and Patricia Duff (University of British Columbia). Invited colloquia will cover TBLT and Teacher Education, the Interface Between TBLT and Content-Based Instruction, TBLT and Culture, and Cognitive Aspects of TBLT.

Contact Information: or

Organizers: University of Alberta

Deadline for proposals: Passed

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Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Espen:Desktop:Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 12.39.49 PM.pngWhat: 4th International Conference on Language Education – Multilingual Education for ALL in Asia Pacific: Policies, practices and processes

When: November 6–8, 2013

Where: Bangkok, Thailand

Summary: The conference brings together MLE partners to increase understanding of the importance of expanding access to effective MLE and strengthen momentum for MLE in Asia and the Pacific region. The conference will facilitate the exchange of effective practices and experiences, link MLE theory to practice and foster policy dialogue. The conference will serve as a platform for forward-looking debate and the shaping of effective education policies and programmes for the post-2015 agenda.

Contact information:

Deadline for abstracts: April 30, 2013



FOCUS on… West Africa

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Espen:Google Drive:PhD:ReN Africa:West-Africa.pngJo Shoba: AILA RenAfrica:  March conference report


‘Language practices and values among young people in Ghana’ was the title of a collaborative research and teaching project between Edge Hill University (EHU) in the UK and in Ghana the University of Ghana (UG) and the University of Education Winneba (UEW). The project ran for three years, from 2010 to 2012, and was funded under the British Academy UK-Africa Academic Partnership Scheme. An end-of-project conference was held at the University of Ghana on 29-30 November 2012. The programme included:


     • Presentation of 12 individual papers

      Keynote talks by Dr Joseph Gafaranga, of the University of Edinburgh, and Professor Mary
Esther Kropp Dakubu, of the University of Ghana

      A colloquium on Language and Education in Ghana

      A research poster competition for postgraduate students (The winner, Beatrice Oforiwaa Bruku, is shown above receiving her prize.)

      A panel presentation and discussion on ‘Getting Academic Work Published’


Description: DSCF0111The conference programme, as well as details of other project activities and outcomes, can be found on our

Also contactable by email are the project leaders, Dr Jo Shoba ( of Edge Hill University and Professor Kari Dako ( of the University of Ghana.



Description: Peace and Collaborative Development NetworkPeace and Collaborative Development Network

A professional networking site for individuals and organizations worldwide involved in development, conflict resolution and related fields.

Call for Residency Application: Two-Month African Writers Residency, Sylt Foundation Residency Programme, South Africa. For more information, please visit: or the discussion link.


For more information, please contact Issa Diallo, Department of Linguistics and National Languages INSS-CNRST, Ouagadougou / BF



Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Espen:Google Drive:PhD:ReN Africa:Francophone Africa.pngFOCUS on… Francophone Africa

Harmonisation des langues africaines transfrontalières par les TIC pour un enseignement/ apprentissage plus efficient: le cas du Peul.


La langue, objet principal de la linguistique, se trouve également au carrefour d’autres disciplines connexes, toute chose qui repose la problématique de l’interdisciplinarité. Dans la présente thèse, il a été question des langues africaines transfrontalières, notamment le Peul abordé sous l’angle de sa dotation pour un enseignement/apprentissage plus efficient dans un contexte africain où les TIC ne sont plus nouvelles.

       En effet, les sources écrites du savoir en Peul sont d’exploitation très localisées. Ainsi, un journal, un livre de lecture ou de mathématique produit au Sénégal est inutilisable par les apprenants du Burkina Faso. Il se pose alors un problème d’harmonisation du Peul, objet de la présente thèse qui porte plus exactement sur l’harmonisation du Peul par les TIC pour un enseignement/apprentissage plus efficient.

       L’harmonisation du Peul qui ne saurait exclure du processus aucun de ses parlers qui sont de véritables richesses (Daff, 2004), participe de son utilisation à des fins d’enseignement/apprentissage plus efficient, l’efficience étant le rapport entre le niveau d’efficacité et les ressources (Gérard, 2001).

       Pour que le Peul, médium linguistique, participe effectivement d’un enseignement/apprentissage plus efficient, les TIC constituent un outil précieux, elles qui donnent «l’occasion de repenser et de délocaliser, dans le temps et dans l’espace, les échanges entre les enseignants et les élèves et favorisent ainsi la création de nouvelles avenues pour des activités d’apprentissage» (Karsenti, 2004, p. 268).

    Aussi, les objectifs de la présente étude ont-ils été les suivants : mieux comprendre comment les TIC peuvent favoriser l’harmonisation de la terminologie et de l’orthographe du Peul ; mieux comprendre dans quelle mesure la diffusion de ressources peules sur Internet a un impact sur « l’évolution positive » de cette langue ; mieux comprendre comment les TIC peuvent rendre plus efficient l’enseignement/ apprentissage du Peul.

       Pour atteindre les objectifs de la recherche, nous avons eu recours à une méthodologie ayant accordé une place de choix aux TIC dans la collecte des données. La thèse étant rédigée par articles, chacun des objectifs a été mis en relation avec l’un des trois articles. Du reste, l’étude fait ressortir que les TIC contribuent efficacement à l’harmonisation du Peul pour un enseignement/apprentissage plus efficient.

Mots-clés: TIC, langues africaines transfrontalières, Peul, fulfulde, Pulaar, Pular, harmonisation, enseignement/apprentissage, terminologie, orthographe, informatisation, dotation, instrumentalisation.


Pour plus d'infos, SVP contactez Issa Diallo, Département de linguistique et des langues nationals INSS-CNRST,  Ouagadougou/BF

FOCUS on…. East Africa and the Horn of Africa

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Espen:Google Drive:PhD:ReN Africa:East-Africa.pngLango Language Board International Mother Tongue Day Celebration, 23 February at Akii Bua Stadium Lira, Uganda

Report by Okaka Opio Dokotum (PhD). Chairman, Lango Language Board (LLB)


In Lango, this year’s International Mother Tongue Day celebration came at a time when we are experiencing the revival of Leblango with the endorsement of the Lango Language Board (LLB) by the National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC), and District leaders of the Lango sub-region, and increase in scholarly, journalistic and creative writing and production of pedagogical materials through the interventions by Mango Tree Educational Enterprises Ltd., RTI, and Trust Africa Foundation. The Standardized Leblango Orthography and Spelling Guide which attempts to solve the problem of underrepresentation, especially by marking vowel quality and grammatical tone has been embraced by all stakeholders and approved by NCDC for use in instructional materials production. Lëblaŋo is picking up in primary schools (especially with the Thematic Curriculum), and has been examined by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) at O’Level for the third year running with excellent results and growing enrollment of participating schools. Literature in Lëblaŋo has also taken off at HSC level with the first crop of candidates sitting in 2013. Lëblaŋo has of course been taught for over ten years at Makerere University’s Lwo Language Department as a component of Lwo. There has been a gap at secondary school level that is now being filled. Finally, linguistic scholarship, language policy, assessment, arts and the media, and the use of Lëblaŋo in the Lango sub-region are coming together. This celebration was an opportunity to reflect on these achievements, to assess challenges and to consolidate these gains. Above all, it is an opportunity to celebrate God’s gift of Lëblaŋo to us and all mother tongues in general. It will create awareness about the importance of mother tongue, it will show healthy cultural pride, promote education at all levels, create community development, and global connectivity.


Activities carried out

·   There was a march through the main street with a live police band and traffic police protection. The march consisted of different categories of people such as Laŋö Language Board Members, Mango Tree staff, District Officials, Religious leaders, pupils, students and interested members of the general Lëblaŋo speech community some of whom travelled hundreds of kilometers to come to the celebrations.

·   Hon. Chairman Local Council V Dokolo, who is also the Chairman of the LCV Chairman’s Forum attended.

·   Dr. Okaka Dokotum and Mr. Laury Lawrence Ocen led a panel discussion on the importance of books in promoting literacy.

·   The old and new books for poems, short stories, puzzles, Manuals for teaching the revised Lëblaŋo orthography produced with the help of Mango Tree’s Strengthening Literate Societies (SLS) Project were launched by Mr. Ogwang Odyero, RDC Dokolo, and were sold affordably to the Lëblaŋo speech community.

·   Pupils and students actively participated in public readings of creative works such as poems, riddles and short stories. This was an exciting activity that amused the guests who were present at the celebration. Ambalal Primary School especially excelled in reading Mango Tree readers written in the Standardized Lëblaŋo Orthography and Spelling Guide.

·   Traditional dance ensembles, Tam pe Tio and Deno Catering Services made exciting live performances of traditional dances. Renowned and highly travelled Lango performer and social critic Morris Sirikinti Ekuka Ogwal Adongo played a traditional song that humorously satirizes people who pretend that they cannot speak Lëblaŋo well and yet they are native Lëblaŋo speakers.

·   Language Board Members who were not sworn in during the time when NCDC/RTI officials came to inaugurate Lang Language Board with a legal status, were sworn in at Lira Magistrates Court

·   Radio shows were held prior to the celebration on 21/02/2013 and 22/02/2013 on Radio Unity. There were also prior adverts on the radio concerning the celebration of Mother Tongue Day. Through this radio programmes, the Lëblaŋo speech community was sensitized of the significance of mother tongue to its native speakers and foreigners.



·   Participants and those who listened to the radio programmes appreciated the meaning of Mother Tongue Day.

·   There was good mobilization strategies discussed on how to build momentum for Mother Tongue education

·   Active involvement of children and women in the celebration

·   Seven titles written by LLB writers were launched

·   The Lango Cultural Foundation called for greater collaboration with LLB in developing Lëblaŋo.



In the Field

African Story Book Project

The African Storybook Project will facilitate availability, access to, and use of sufficient good stories for early reading practice for African children ages 2 to 9 by setting up an interactive website with stories for early reading and by encouraging educators and literacy development organisations working in early literacy of young children in African countries:

   to access openly licensed digital reading resources of various levels and types on the site

   to translate and/or adapt the stories into a familiar language and context for the children they work with

   to create their own stories and upload them in the templates provided,

   to contribute already published stories and make them available under an open licence, and

   to use them in a variety of ways for literacy development.

The project will initially operate mainly in the pilot countries (Kenya, Uganda and South Africa) in schools, community libraries/reading clubs, early childhood and family literacy settings.

We will draw on African oral literature and traditions of storytelling, songs, riddles, rhymes, on high quality published stories that the copyright holders are willing to donate, on openly licensed material already available on the Web, and on stories developed through workshops and competitions specifically for the project. But our main intent is to encourage creation and adaptation by users themselves in the ‘easy to use’ templates we provide on the website.


For more information:

Project Leader, Tessa Welch:

In-country co-ordinators:

Kenya – Dorcas Wepukhulu Nafula: or

South Africa – Sheila Drew:

Uganda – Juliet Tembe:



What's New in Technology

Resources and Tools

Pan African Localization Project in English and French. Wiki on African writing systems, profiles of African languages, ICT and localization situations of all countries of Africa, sources for fonts, keyboards, language maps, legislation, country ICT profiles. Supported by the IDRC, Kabissa, and Bisharat.


Swahili Manuscripts Database - School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS Covers "manuscripts dating from the 1790s to the 1970s, contained in the papers of William Taylor, Alice Werner, William Hichens, Wilfred Whiteley, Jan Knappert and Yahya Ali Omar.... holds microfilms of the manuscripts... deposited by JWT Allen at the University of Dar es Salaam." Search by keywords across the text of all records, or search individual collections. See images of the manuscripts, listen to Shaikh Yahya Ali Omar reciting a manuscript. The Adam Matthew company( has microfilmed the collection. [KF]


Kagan, Alfred - Sources for African Language Materials from the Countries of Anglophone Africa Kagan is the African Studies Bibliographer, University of Illinois Library, Champaign/Urbana. The report was prepared for the 61st IFLA General Conference, August 1995.


Journal of Language and Popular Culture in Africa (Amsterdam) Full text articles. Published by Language and Popular Culture in Africa, is an Internet project set up by Johannes Fabian and Vincent de Rooij of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam in the




Namyalo, S. & C. Oriikiriza: Lexical expansion of Ugandan indigenous languages: the case of Luganda, Makerere University, Uganda



Luganda speakers as well as users in specialized professions like teaching, translation, and documentation of technical texts and dictionary writing have been faced with a challenge of transferring specialized concepts from languages like English, German, French, Arabic, and Japanese into Luganda. Most of the technical terms, which represent the numerous concepts that exist in specialised fields, have no equivalents in Luganda. This poses a challenge in specialized communication, which is built on effective transfer of meaning. The desire for effective communication, therefore, between subject specialists has inevitably called for the need to move towards a systematic and logical articulation and expression of concepts as well as the terms that represent them in Luganda. Rondeau et al. (1986:34) observe that throughout the last fifteen years, and in spite of the often differing ideologies concerning a substantial number of guiding principles of terminology, agreement has been reached. This, therefore, suggests that the process of terminological modernisation of Luganda too should be carried out within the framework of methods and guiding principles of term creation, and should have a well-designed school of terminology, which serves the social, political, cultural, scientific and technological needs of Uganda in general and Luganda in particular (see also, Sager (1997), Sager (1990:80), Sager et al (1980:243), Dubic (1997), Picht (1985), Rey (1995) and Kiingi (1989, 2000, 2005)). In order, therefore, to create terms for specialised concepts, the following steps are ideal for languages who operate at secondary level of term formation in this case Ugandan languages and Luganda in particular.

Steps for Secondary Level Creation for Specialised Concepts

(i) Identification of the field of interest

There are many areas whose lexicon needs to be expanded. They are of varied scopes that it is not possible to embark on all these areas at the same time. Therefore, it is feasible that one can only limit the boundaries of choice to one area. For instance, one’s boundaries can be health or HIV terms, agriculture, essential subjects at a given level of education, e.g. mathematics, social studies, science, or grammar.

(ii) Formation of a project team

The formation of terms need a project team called a terminology project team. The team should include subject specialists, terminologists, linguists and native speakers of the language, whose lexicon is being expanded. Subject specialists are needed for explaining the meaning (or concepts). Terminology transfer between languages is dependent upon meaning transfer having taken place. Terminologists cannot name appropriately unless they have understood what they are naming.

(iii) Collection of the term list corpus

A meaningful terminology calls for a comprehensive corpus which is representative of the body of the concepts within a given specialized field. This will avoid piecemeal approaches, because they lead to the violation of the term formation principles that are crucial in a planned and conscious expansion of a language’s specialized lexicon.

(iv) Design a comprehensive style manual

A comprehensive style manual serves as a guide to those coining the terms. In the absence of a well-motivated model the style manual provides a logical framework of thinking, and explaining how this thinking can help those involved in lexical expansion of developing languages, to develop terms that are acceptable to the register users.

For the full paper, please send a request to: Dr. Saudah Namyalo email:



Tell us about your research!

Send us a short profile (one paragraph) of the research you are undertaking on language or literacy education in Africa by August 15, 2013, for inclusion in our next issue.