The University of Namibia department of language and literature studies in conjunction with various stakeholders last week held a 10-day workshop for teaching English to speakers of other languages (Tesol) in Otjiwarongo.
The workshop comes after the much-publicised poor performance by teachers in English language proficiency.
Participants for the work were drawn from all the 13 regions of the country and included teachers in kindergarten up to Grade 12 teachers as well as all those involved in the teaching of the language.
The workshop, the first of its kind in Namibia, also saw the formation of the Namibia Tesol Association made up of the participants and is based at Unam.
The content of the workshop include English Language Acquisition, Language Assessment, Communication Strategies, Content-Based Instruction Lesson Planning, different Texts and Contexts, Determining Content Language, Methodology for Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing, and Activities and Material Development.
Unam head of department of Language and Literature Studies, Professor Jairos Kangira who organised the workshop said it was his department’s initiative to assist in the teaching and learning of English language.
“Since our department is involved in appraising teachers, we saw it fit that we should hold such workshops to improve the teaching and learning of English,” Professor Kangira said last week.
He said that Unam has a partnership with the US Eastern Michigan University who were represented by Professor Elizabeth Morgan, an expert in Tesol.
Addressing the workshop, formal Education under secretary, Charles Kabajani, in a speech read on his behalf by Faustina Calley, Otjozondjupa regional education director said it is common knowledge that the English proficiency in Namibia was low.
“The major reason is that we adopted English as an official language, together with other languages, only in 1990 at the attainment of independence.
“It is understandable that as a young independent nation we are still grappling with many challenges, among them the low proficiency in English in various sectors of our society, including education.
“It is, therefore, proper that our teachers attend this Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Tesol) workshop as the torchbearers of enlightenment in our beautiful country,” Kabajani said.
He encouraged teachers to keep in mind the social language and the academic language acquisition of learners.
“I am glad to note that this is part of what you are going to cover in this workshop. The major handicap in our learners, especially in the rural areas, is that they speak English only during class time. That is if they are lucky to be given a chance by the teacher on a particular day,” Kabajani noted adding that it was most likely because huge numbers of learners.
He reminded the teachers that they should remember that ‘everything we do is in the interest of the Namibian child and this nation’.
“As educators, we signed a virtual social contract with the learners and their parents to deliver our best in our duties. I know that all of you are committed educators; that are why you chose to be here while others are on holiday,” he said.