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International Symposium on African and Diasporic Languages and Education Bios

Symposium Co-Chairs

George Clement Bond

George Clement Bond

William F. Russell Professor of Anthropology and Education

George Clement Bond is the Director of the Center for African  Education and William F. Russell Professor for Anthropology and  Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. His interests include education and elite formation in the United States and Africa; African studies; African religions and politics; agrarian transformations; and cultural dimensions of urban and minority populations. He has conducted research on political and religious change among the Tumbuka-speaking peoples of Zambia and Malawi; social dimensions of AIDS in Southern Uganda; and privatization, democratization and the plight of the poor in northern Zambia.  Dr. Bond has been the Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University and President of the Association for Africanist Anthropology. His most recent publications include Contested Terrains and Constructed Categories: Contemporary Africa in Focus (2002) and Witchcraft Dialogues: Anthropological and Philosophical Exchanges (2001).

 

Jo Anne Kleifgen

Jo Anne Kleifgen
Associate Professor of Linguistics and Education

Jo Anne Kleifgen is Associate Professor of Linguistics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a founding member and Co-Director of the Center for Multiple Languages and Literacies.  She teaches courses in linguistics, discourse analysis, bilingualism, and computers and language/literacy. She has conducted research on discourse in multilingual classrooms, the language of the Internet, and the use of technologies to strengthen bilingualism and biliteracy in Haitian and Latino populations.  She has also studied communicative practices in a high-tech, multilingual workplace in Silicon Valley. Her articles have been published in Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Language in Society, Research on Language and Social Interaction, and Reading Research Quarterly, among others. Currently, she is involved in a project that addresses the digital divide in communities with low-income, multiple-language populations, focusing on computer support for Latino middle-school students' biliteracy development in New York. She has been a visiting scholar and has served as consultant to language programs in both the U. S. and abroad.

 

Alumni

Peter Mtesigwa

Peter Mtesigwa
University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Biography
Peter Mtesigwa is Principal Language Research Officer at the National Kiswahili Council of Tanzania. He received his doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2001. He has taught several linguistics courses in the Kiswahili Department at the University of Dar es Salaam and was lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria from 1987-1991 in the Department of Linguistics and African Languages. He is a panel member of two Swahili localization computer programs: Jambo OpenOffice of the Linux Program (Kilinux) accessible at www.kilinux.udsm.ac.tz and Microsoft Swahili localization program that has so far translated and compiled a Kiswahili glossary of basic terms along with over 20,000 string commands and phrases applied in Microsoft Office and Windows Programmes. These projects aim at meeting the growing computer literacy demand to the large non-English speaking Kiswahili population in East and Central Africa.

Abstract
Kiswahili In the globalization era: Perspectives, challenges and prospects

This paper discusses the position of Kiswahili (Swahili language) as a fast growing African language especially in East and Central Africa. The paper first gives an overview of the language situation on the African continent with a purpose of highlighting the causes that have led to the current status of the indigenous African languages in Africa itself. It then focuses on Kiswahili, giving its history in brief especially the factors that helped it to spread from along the East African coast to more than 12 African nations in the hinterland where it is spoken today. The paper also portrays the cultural and official domains in which Kiswahili is dominant. The paper further examines the challenges Kiswahili faced in the course of its development during various political eras in the East and Central African region. In this respect, the role of Language Policy as key to language planning and language development is demonstrated as a base that determines not only the choice of a national or official language but also the choice of a language of instruction in education. Finally, the paper discusses how Kiswahili tackled the challenges in the past and is tackling them today within the context of globalization, highlighting the achievements so far obtained in social, political and literacy domains. It also gives recommendations for further achievements in the future.

 

 

Shondel Nero 

Shondel Nero
St. John's University, Queens, New York

Biography
Shondel Nero, a native of Guyana, is Associate Professor of TESOL in the School of Education at St. John's University, Queens, New York, where she has been teaching in the Masters Program in TESOL since September 1998. She holds an Ed.D. in applied linguistics and an M.A. in TESOL from Columbia University's Teachers College. Dr. Nero's teaching and research interests include ESL, Standard English as a Second Dialect, linguistics, sociolinguistics, Caribbean Creole English, World Englishes, and language and identity. Her work on the education of Caribbean Creole English speakers has appeared in such journals as TESOL Quarterly, TESOL Journal, Language and Education, World Englishes, and English Today. She is the author of Englishes in Contact: Anglophone Caribbean Students in an Urban College (Hampton Press, 2001), and editor of a recently published volume, Dialects, Englishes, Creoles, and Education (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006), which examines the politics, challenges, and strategies of educating students who speak diverse varieties of English and Creoles.

Abstract
Success or failure? Language, tracking, and social stratification of Caribbean students

The literature on the education of English-speaking Caribbean students in the last thirty years has reflected what I call "parallel narratives," that is to say, that the Caribbean student is, depending on which narrative is being constructed, either the immigrant success story or the failing student. One can argue that, to some degree, both of these narratives are true, although the latter has been increasingly gaining ground as more recent waves of Caribbean students have entered North American schools and colleges.

This paper will address the significant disparity in academic achievement among English-speaking Caribbean students. Using Jamaica as a focal point, I argue that the practice of streaming (tracking) in Jamaican and other Caribbean schools, largely indexed by language use (on a continuum from Standard English to Creole) and socioeconomic class, has a deterministic effect on Caribbean students in terms of their success or failure in school both in the Caribbean and abroad. I contend further that to the extent that proficiency in Standard English is used as an index of academic ability, Jamaican and other Caribbean students who come to school already proficient in standard English (a minority, usually from the upper middle class) are put on track for academic success while other students (the Creole-speaking majority, typically of lower socioeconomic class) are assigned to low-performing classes and schools, putting them on track for a cycle of failure. This disparity in academic achievement is reflected and often continues when Caribbean students migrate and enter North American schools.

I call for a critical re-examination of the practice of tracking in Caribbean schools, and the implementation of a more equitable language policy for Caribbean students at home and abroad, which does not perpetuate social stratification.


Jon A. Yasin

Jon A. Yasin
Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey

Biography
Jon A. Yasin is Professor of English, Linguistics, and Religion at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. He holds two doctorates: a PhD in Linguistics and Rhetoric at the State University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania and an EdD in Applied Linguistics at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has published work on Hip Hop and youth culture in Race and ideology, Latin/a discourses, multiple intelligences, Howard Gardner, and new methods of college teaching, Papers of the Mid Career Fellows at Princeton University, and African Legacy: A cultural heritage through art (in collaboration with Charles Bordogna). Forthcoming publications include "The Language-music connection in old school and new school Hip Hop" in Sociolinguistics; "Common culture: Rap lyrics in the American writing classroom" in Black language in the English speaking Caribbean and in the United States: History, structure, use and education; and "Hip Hop: A source of empowerment for African American male students" in The handbook of African American education.

Abstract
Rockin' the Classroom: Hip Hop Culture as an Instructional Tool

Hip Hop, currently an international youth culture, has its origins in the African American, African Caribbean and Latino neighborhoods of the West and South Bronx sections of New York City. The elements of Hip Hop were already in existence by the early 1970s but were uniquely re-configured as Hip Hop at this time. This re-configuration of traditions, some of which were already practiced in the cultures of these youths of color, provided them with an alternative identity to that of marginalization by the wider community. This alternative identity generated a specific Discourse, defined by Gee as "ways of using language, other symbolic expressions, and -'artifacts', of thinking, feeling, believing, valuing, and acting that can be used to identify oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group" (1996, 131). In 1980, the Hip Hop recording, "Rappers Delight," introduced mainstream society to the Hip Hop element of emceein'/rappin'/rhymin', one of the social practices of this youth culture. Subsequently, youths in the global community began emceein', communicating spoken messages over music, and practicing the other elements of Hip Hop, taggin'/graffiti art, deejayin', b-boyin' and b-girlin' breakdancing. Hip Hop was rapidly becoming a primary Discourse for many children and pre-teens, who had adolescent siblings participating in this culture. A primary Discourse, according to Gee, is a discourse of early socialization.

This paper shows how certain semiotic features of this Discourse have been introduced into the wider society. As it continues to be appropriated by mainstream society, Hip Hop culture has its place in the classroom as an educational tool. For example, through creating rhymes as emcees, students have acquired skills to collaborate well with cohorts about the writing process. Furthermore, these youths present lively discussions about plagiarism and academic dishonesty because they do not wish others to -'bite their lyrics'. Moreover, they need to -'keep it real', so they provide insight into the research process. In short, they bring valuable contributions to the writing classroom.

 

Kate Parry

Kate Parry
Professor Department of English, Hunter College, CUNY

Biography
Kate Parry is a professor in the Department of English at Hunter College of the City University of New York; and she spends four months a year in Uganda, where she works on various literacy projects. She began her career as a secondary school teacher in Uganda and later worked preparing primary and secondary school teachers in Northern Nigeria. From 1982 to 1985 she studied for a doctorate at Teachers College of Columbia University, for which she did her research in Nigeria under the guidance of Professor Clifford Hill. She was subsequently appointed to teach ESL, writing, and linguistics at Hunter College. In the 1990s she spent three semesters in China teaching in a program for teachers of College English and then two years in Uganda, where she taught in the Department of Language Education at Makerere University. Her present work in Uganda is focused on a community library and literacy research center that she has established with local support, and she has recently been appointed the Chair of the Uganda Community Libraries Association, which aims to encourage the development of other such libraries.

Her publications include Reading for a Purpose (St. Martin's Press, 1992), From Testing to Assessment: English as an International Language (Longman, 1994, with Clifford Hill), Culture, Literacy, and Learning English: Voices from the Chinese Classroom (Heinemann,1998, with Su Xiaojun), Language and Literacy in Uganda: Towards the Development of a Reading Culture (Fountain Publishers, 2000), and Teaching Reading in African Schools (Fountain Publishers, 2006, with Loy Tumusiime and Sam Andema). She has written many articles on literacy in both Africa and China and is working on a history of English speakers across the world.


Ellen M. Schnepel

Ellen M. Schnepel
CIFAS in New York City, Principal of Schnepel Consulting
 
Biography

Ellen M. Schnepel is Senior Research Associate at CIFAS in New York City and principal of Schnepel Consulting. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology from Columbia University and has conducted ethnographic research in the French West Indies, Mauritius, and Andorra on a variety of issues: language and nationalism, language and identity, language and education, gender relations, and changing patterns of food marketing and consumption. She co-edited a special issue of The International Journal of the Sociology of Language dedicated to the politics and ideology of "Creole Movements in the Francophone Orbit" (1993), and is author of the monograph, In Search of a National Identity: Creole and Politics in Guadeloupe (Hamburg: Buske, 2004). Her articles have appeared in numerous journals: Ethnic Groups, Plantation Society in the Americas, Recherches Fministes, Etudes Croles, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, New West Indian Guide, High Plains Applied Anthropologist, Gastronomica, and The Independent Scholar. She is currently designing an applied research project in medical anthropology involving Haitian American youth, risky lifestyle choices, and hidden health problems in New York City.

Abstract

Political and Cultural Dimensions of Kryl as a Regional Language in the French Antilles

Since the 1970s language militants in the French overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean have pressed for Kryl's recognition as a language in its own right, separate and distinct from French, while linguists and educators have been advocating for its introduction in the school system as a legitimate subject of study and/or a pedagogical tool to aid children in the transition to French. In challenging the official policy of the national educational system, which historically has given French the sole privileged place, these efforts have culminated in the inclusion of Kryl as a regional language of France (alongside Breton, Basque, Occitan, and Corsican); and Kryl is now taught as a course option in local junior high schools (or collges) in Guadeloupe and Martinique.

To understand the long struggle to change the status and role of Kryl in the French Antilles, this presentation will first lay the foundations of the sociolinguistic context of these island societies. The author will then consider several of the debates within the "discourse on discourse": e.g., the orthography issue, the concept of interlecte and how it relates to a pdagogie de la variation (Prudent 1993, 2005), and the polemic surrounding the implementation of the CAPES Kryl, an examination for certifying secondary school teachers in the language, which was initiated in 2000.

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