The Department of English at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Celebrates International Education Week (IEW) with the representative of the Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Yaoundé

The Department of English at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Celebrates International Education Week (IEW) with the representative of the Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Yaoundé (Nov. 14, 2017)

 

Report by Dr Yvonne Ngwa Iden

The International Education Week (IEW) is a joint initiative of the US Department of State and the US Department of Education that aims to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. It is a yearly event scheduled between November 13-17. In view of the number of Fulbright Alumni in the Department of English at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS): Prof. Daniel A. Nkemleke (senior Fulbright Scholar, University of Massachusetts, 2010-2011), Dr Yvonne Ngwa Iden (Studies of United States Institute for Contemporary American Literature, University of Louis Ville, Kentucky (2015), and Mr Patrick Roderique Belibi Enama (junior Fulbright scholar, State University of New York (2012-2014), an academic forum was organized at ENS on November 14, 1-4 p.m. to highlight the implication of education inherent in this year’s general theme for the event: “Promoting Educational and Cultural Exchanges”.

A keynote discourse on competency-based approach to English language teaching was presented by Mr Patrick Roderique Belibi Enama—a befitting subject for student teachers in one of the country’s famous institution for teacher training (ENS). The presentation was very instructive, but also highly academic. General discussion following the presentation enriched understanding of both students and staff present on the genesis and evolution of the competency-based approach. The approach is a major orientation of government’s pedagogic policy for English language teaching in Cameroonian schools today.

In attendance were over 60 students of the Department, Mr Gerald Chilla, representative of the Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Yaoundé, Professor Daniel Nkemleke, Chair of the Department, Dr Divine Che Neba, senior lecturer in the Department, Dr Eleanor Dasi, senior lecturer in the Department, Dr David Kusi, senior lecturer in the department, and Mr Julius Kum, assistant lecturer in the department.

Professor Daniel Nkemleke, who chaired the forum, acknowledged the significant contribution to education, training and scholarship that the Cultural Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Yaoundé had made to the professional development of staff of the department so far. On behalf of the Department and the Director of ENS, he appreciated the fruitful co-operation between the US Embassy and ENS.

The academic forum ended with an overview of the US Government educational and scholarship opportunities for students by Mr Gerald Chilla, who denotated thirty-five copies of eleven different books in French to the department for the benefit of students. The books cover a wide range of subject including culture, society, politics, management, diseases etc.

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you can download the PDF version here IEW Report.

ERC DAY AT ECOLE NORMALE SUPERIEURE, UNIVERSITY OF YAOUNDÉ 1

ERC DAY AT ECOLE NORMALE SUPERIEURE, UNIVERSITY OF YAOUNDÉ 1

it took place on March 27, 2017: 12-14 H
Discussion themes:
The European Research Council as a research funding body
Cameroonian/African Mythology, Archetypal cross-references with the
Graeco-Roman Heritage and the Relevance of Myths in Young Adults’
Education

The celebration of the 2017 ERC day at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of the University of Yaoundé 1 was animated by two talks: one on the scope of funding activities of the ERC with focus on the project: our mythical childhood… and the other on mythology, archetypal cross-references with Graeco-Roman heritage and the relevance of myths in young adults’ education. Over a hundred and forty attendees from the university stepped away from their different academic activities (classes and lectures) to take part. Prof. Daniel A. Nkemleke and Dr Divine Che Neba were the speakers of the day. They were pleased to see that over 25% of attendees were students from other departments other than English and literary studies. They came largely because of the publicity that had been made about the event a week before. Although the event was held at the premises of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, staff and students from the adjacent Faculty of Arts, Letters and Social Sciences were also present.Read more…

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)

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.

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Text Mediation across Disciplines: networking, exchange and benefits (posted by Dr Yvonne Iden Ngwa)

img_2870-jpg-yvonneI started exchanging with Prof. Daniel Nkemleke lately and I would like to acknowledge that it has been a very enriching experience. As a junior scientist in Contemporary American Literature, I have severally needed guidance when I think of paper or a project. Prof. Nkemleke has always been available to provide the much-needed mentoring and editorial support. His useful remarks, criticisms and suggestions have been a significant contribution to my recent projects that lumps Theatre and Performance, Language and Cultural Policy Studies, together. The idea of his network for working together with students and colleagues at postdoc level is a timely asset for the department and beyond.

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

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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The Academic Writing Class with Professor Daniel Nkemleke

Neele-Frederike Mundt

University of Landau-Koblenz

(PhD student in residence at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, University of Yaoundé 1)

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After years of studying, all the effort comes to an end in the form of one important exam. For most of us, this comes in a form of a written work, an empirical study and numerous literature reviews that might haunt our consciousness for weeks, even months. Students put all their effort in their research, however it is also important to know how to present one’s results. While in Germany students are required to apply strategies to review current and relevant literature, students in Cameroon face a very different problem: access to research material, up to date studies or books.

Living in a globalized village has may advantages, for example enormous amounts of information are available at every minute and every hour of every day – as long as you have access to internet. It is one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century. Although the internet has spread its wings through central Africa, including Cameroon, access to it seems to be problematic for a lot of students. The internet leads the path away from small libraries that have not been filled with books since 1960; it takes away the excuse of missing ground breaking works, but this freedom has a price! Fast and unlimited internet access is only affordable by the rich and the majority – including teachers and researchers –  rely on the inconsistent, unreliable and slow connection that may or may not be found at the university. There is a certain degree of exclusivity attached to luxury goods, such as unlimited and fast internet.

Of course, this makes research more exhausting, it will take more effort and patience; however, it does not make research impossible! It is important to understand that the works produced in Cameroon are as outstanding as work produced around the globe. This is what is successfully taught in this academic writing class: it instructs students on how to participate in the field of academic research.

New research in Chemnitz

New joint-research project with TU Chemnitz

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During this research stay in TU Chemnitz (May-June 2016), we finalized a research group linkage project which should take our collaboration into the future. The new project involves 5 junior scientists (4 from Cameroon and 1 from Germany), as well as many senior academics based in Cameroon, in a series of research seminars and academic exchanges. There are a significant number of potential post-doctorate applicants for Humboldt scholarship in Cameroon. We want to work with these junior scientists within a framework of a group so that they are able to submit applications for the Humboldt scholarship.

Participation in academic life at TU Chemnitz

img_1944I participated in 2 international academic events organized at TU Chemnitz and presented a paper in a departmental lecture series, CASE 7. The first conference on “Crisis, Risks and New Regionalism in Europe II: Emergency Diasporas and Borderlands” took place from June 1-5 at Altes Heizhaus. This was a DAAD funded conference organized by the department of Intercultural Studies. The second one was the “1st Chemnitz/Dresden Corpus Linguistics & Digital Humanities Conference” organized by the department of English Language & Linguistics on July 18. On July 13, I presented a paper entitled: “Tertiary Academic Writing in Cameroon English in Comparison to Native English: Exploring Quantitative and Qualitative Patterns”. I discussed academic collaboration and publication with Dr Renata Povolna of the Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, who also presented a paper entitled: “Cross-cultural Analysis of Conference Abstracts”. We also had very fruitful academic discussions with the Nigerian participant at the event: Professor Alexandra Esimaje of the Benson Idahosa University, Benin City Nigeria.

Overall, I had the privilege to contribute to students’ research from BA to PhD. Here are some examples. (1) Gabriela Cosmina (TU Chemnitz): She is working on a BA thesis on the writing of dissertation introductions by Cameroonian students. Her study is based on a corpus of students’ academic writing in Cameroon which I had compiled. (2) Adeiza Isiaka (Lagos, Nigeria): He is completing a PhD thesis on the Nigerian English vowel. (3) Jacinta Sarpong Edusei (Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana): She is completing a PhD thesis on hedging in Ghanaian academic writing.

Cultural activities/excursions

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My daughter, Fanyi Joy Nkemleke, and I undertook a number of cultural tours in Germany. We attended the Annual General Meeting organized by the Humboldt Foundation in Berlin from 6-8 of July and also travelled to Freiberg for a cultural tour. Back in Chemnitz, we attended a number of club activities organized by Chinese, Albanian and Cameroonian students studying here at the university. We witnessed many activities (Opera, dance etc.) downtown Chemnitz on week-ends.

Conference in Poland May 12-16, 2016

poland-img_1892I participated in a conference at the University of Warsaw, Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, Centre for Studies on the Classical Tradition (OBTA), May 12-16 under the theme: “Chasing Mystical Beast…The Reception of Creatures from Graeco-Roman Mythology in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture as  Transformational Marker”. I presented a paper co-authored with Dr Divine Che Neba, a colleague in my department. Our presentation was entitled: “Myths, Beasts, and Creatures: Towards the Construction of Human Categories in Oral Tradition in Cameroon”. This conference was organized by Prof. Katarzyna Marciniak, who received the Humboldt Alumni Prize for Innovative Research Initiative with me in June 2014. Our research collaboration began during that event, and today my university and OBTA are involved in a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Project in which she is the PI (Principal Investigator). The project involves three other universities: University of Roehampton, UK; University of New England, Australia, and Bar-Ilan University, Israel. This collaboration is an example of how the Network of scholars within the Humboldt Foundation scheme can have a multiplier effect with long lasting impact on the research of junior scientists.

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