Author: Daniel NKEMLEKE

Postgraduate Students at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) Yaoundé comment on the Academic Writing class with Prof. Nkemleke, and the Network Centre for Academic Writing Excellence (Posted by the class committee, Dec. 4, 2016)

One of the objectives of higher education is for students to express ideas coherently in writing. In the university students are usually expected to write in a way that reflects the training they have received. At the postgraduate level, we are expected to conduct research and present data with a certain degree of maturity in language use and writing style. Academic writing therefore comes in handy as the course that helps to train students in this project. In the Department of English at ENS Yaoundé, Professor Daniel Nkemleke teaches academic writing with a lot of assiduity and attention. The classes are usually very interactive and spiced with variety, as the professor exposes us to sample texts from different academic genres (e.g. research articles, book blurbs, dissertation excerpts, posters, abstracts). In addition, he created a forum for us to interact with Neele-Frederiche Mundt, a PhD student-in-resident at ENS from the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany. We have learned many things about academic writing conventions from her input, including anecdotes from her experience in Germany about academic writing, and student-professor relationship. To say the least, the 14-week academic writing lectures have been very enriching for us.

As novices in the field of research, and as teachers-to-be, the importance of this enriching course content cannot be overemphasized. In fact, the course lays a solid foundation for would-be teachers to grasp basic notions like hedging, signposting, and academic humility, which will eventually help us to teach students different ways of approaching specific text-types, as the case may be. Rather than merely brooding in the dark like most new brooms in the domain of research do, we have been exposed to writing conventions, which we believe will help consolidate our research presentation skills. Bearing all these in mind, it will not be an overstatement to say that the Academic Writing lessons we have received have prepared us to face the academic world, at least with a degree of confidence.

Above all, the Network Centre for Academic Writing Excellence, which we constantly visit to provide us with additional resources and motivation, including networking ideas and opportunities. Although we have learned a lot for this course, we regret that the time allocated for it is not enough. Consequently, we believe that if more time is allocated for this course, future students at ENS will even derived the most benefit than we have done.


Categories: Research Unclassified

Lasting Academic Links: Professor Augustin Simo Bobda meets Professor Josef Schimed at a Yaoundé International Symposium

Professor Augustin Simo Bobda is one of the most authoritative voices in research on Cameroon English, having published extensively in this area and beyond. But he is also one of the architects of the Corpus of Cameroon English Project (CCE-P), because he established the first international link with Chemnitz University of Technology with his first visit in October 1995, accompanied by David Tiomajou, who at the time was working with me to build the database.

The Chemnitz visit, funded by the DAAD, was indeed the initiative of Professor Josef Schmied, who had just established a new Department of English at the Chemnitz University of Technology. Professor Simo and David Tiomajou took along with them some text of the new CCE-P, which we had started earlier on under the academic supervision of Antoinette Renouf then in John Sinclair’s COBUILD Research Group at Birmingham University.

Multiplier effect

The visit of Professor Simo Bobda to Chemnitz set the stage for my own relationship with Professor Schmied, because 12 years after I got a Humboldt grant to refine the Cameroonian corpus. From then I had the opportunity of another grant (Fulbright in the US) to lay a blue print for a spoken component, which Professor Samuel Atechi took over and worked extensively on during his own Humboldt grant in Chemitz.

In July 2015 we were able to organise an International Symposium, this time on an applied aspect of corpus building, namely academic writing. This event brought Professor Schmied and many others from Nigeria, Ghana, and Tanzania to Cameroon.

I am proud to share with you some of the images of this symposium, and of course some old photos we have had with Professor Simo Bobda over the years (e.g. my own PhD defence in 2003 where he was an examiner, his participation at the symposium event, reception of international guests at his home—one of the series of post-symposium events, and an academic event in the University of Yaoundé 1 many years back.

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Categories: Research