E4E: English for Excellence

September 24th, 2015

Wannan m sakon ake nufi ga illusturate wani batu – harshe zai iya zama sau da yawa wani shãmaki to hankali.

Did you get the message? Unless you hail from northern Nigeria and speak Hausa, you probably feel a bit lost. Now imagine that today, having no knowledge of this language, it became your primary method of communication. How would you talk with your peers? How would you work collaboratively? How would you acquire your basic necessities? These challenges face incoming non-Anglophone ALA students on their path to master English.

Thankfully, these students receive support through the English for Excellence program. Consisting of three parts, this program helps students gain the required academic and social language proficiency to reach their potential here at the Academy. In a specialized elective, students are taught the foundations of written and spoken English through fast-paced, interactive activities based on the Rassias Method®. Students also receive differentiated instruction in their Writing and Rhetoric classes, enabling them to understand and engage with the course content. To support their academic pursuits, students have access to a variety of tutoring services, an ELL library, and conversational buddies. By the end of their first year, students acquire the linguistic confidence and fluency necessary to perform well at ALA.

In addition to providing our students with an excellent education, the English for Excellence program is crucial to the Academy’s mission. By being able to accept and train dozens of young leaders from non-Anglophone backgrounds, the program extends the reach of the Academy, moving beyond cities like Lagos and Nairobi and into places like Porto-Novo and N’Djamena. The transformation of the African continent will be lead by those of all linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds, and this program ensures that the most deserving, regardless of language ability, have the opportunity to benefit from ALA.

Last week, I recorded interviews with all our new students, documenting where they’re beginning their journeys with English. Although Nouhan, a young man from Guinea, stumbled through his responses, his ideas were profound. “Where you do see yourself in 5 years?” I posed. Slowly, heavily accented words echoed through the empty room, “I…want…help…my country…my community…my world.” Behind his simple words lies an immense intellect, determined to serve others. Because of the English for Excellence program, in a few months, Nouhan and others like him will be communicating with ease, answering questions in class, debating ideas with peers, and working to realize their vision of what Africa can be.

About the author: Jake Galloway is a faculty member, in the Writing and Rhetoric Department at ALA. Read his profile here.



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