Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Senegal faculty train at the VTLCI

On September 29th, the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute saw off a group of twelve Senegalese participants involved in a ‘train the trainers’ (TOT) program. Focused on building English teaching capacity at a number of institutions in the country, the program is part of a broader ‘Feed the Future’ food security initiative being executed by the Office of International Research, Education and Development (OIRED). Seven of the thirteen universities that are working with OIRED in Senegal were represented among the VTLCI group.

Given that much of the literature and research on food security is only published in English, VTLCI’s role in this project is to enhance teaching of English as a foreign language at participating universities. Seminars and workshops for this group introduced on-line delivery of English instruction, techniques for teaching English with few resources, and teaching English for specific purposes - all against the backdrop of current language acquisition and adult learning theory.

Participants visited VTLCI intensive English classes, reviewed teaching materials, and began developing plans for applying their observations and learning back home. “The TOT format gave participants the opportunity to try out what they had learned in a safe, structured environment at the VTLCI.” said Amanda Johnson, program coordinator.  “Our group will help bolster English teaching back home in order to support delivery of content in the language. By improving English in the professoriate, we will in turn increase access to vital research on food security." 

Participants met at OIRED for final presentations, and to receive certificates, at the program graduation ceremony. Babacar Diop, an English language instructor at the University of Ziguinchor, with colleagues, presented on plans to implement their group's training outcomes in Senegal. “We have planted the tree of friendship and collaboration and we will all water it with correspondence and exchange until it grows up and gives the expected fruits to people of both nations,” said Diop. More training is being planned for 2012.

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