BAAL LiA SIG Annual Report: 2016-2017


Since September 2016, 14 new members have joined the LiASIG. Our current membership stands at 117. 46 are members of BAAL. Of the 71 non-BAAL members, 43 are resident in Africa, and 12 more are outside the UK – USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Spain, Netherlands and Norway.


Elections were held in May 2017. Substantial preparations were made in order to gain nominees and carry out an on-line ballot for a new committee. We gained four new* committee members.

At the Conference in May 2017 the new committee was voted in:

Convenor: Goodith White 2017-Communications Secretary: Colin Reilly 2017-
Treasurer: Ian Cheffy 2015-
Research & Publications Officer Rosemary Wildsmith- Cromarty* 2017-
Events Manager Elvis Yevudey 2015-
Webmaster Abdulmalik Ofemile* 2017-
Ordinary member (1) Annette Islei 2017-
Ordinary member (2) Mary Anderson* 2017-
Co-opted member Sarah Ogbay* 2017-

Previous committee

Convenor: Annette Islei ((Mountains of the Moon University, Uganda; CAARD (U) Ltd.)
Treasurer Caroline McGlynn (University of East London) 2011-13, 2013-15
Communications Secretary Goodith White (University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus) 2015-17
Webmaster Elvis Yevudey (Aston University) 2014-15
Ordinary member Bomiegha Ayamoto (new member 2015)


Currently (September 17th 2017) the SIG has a bank balance of £467.58. At the end of the last financial year (May 31st 2017) it stood at 492.58.



4.1 27-28th April 2017: BAAL/CUP Seminar, Aston University
Two members of the LIA SIG, Colin Reilly and Elvis Yevudey, successfully bid for funding for a BAAL/CUP seminar on “Minority Languages in New Media: Towards language revitalisation in Europe and Africa’’. The seminar focused on emerging trends in the use of minority languages in new media within the European and African contexts. Over the course of two days, 18 participants based in 10 countries met to discuss the use of over 10 European and African minority languages in new media. Presentations on African languages included digital poetry in Chichewa, a keynote talk on claiming digital space for African community languages by Lutz Marten, and a talk on community efforts to revitalise Nubian.

4.2 6th May 2017: The LiASIG Annual Conference, Reading University
• Plenary talk by Prof. Friederike Lupke (SOAS): ‘Multilingualism without borders: perspectives on language and development in multilingual Casamance’.
• 12 papers which focussed on: translanguaging (2) language policy in education (4) deaf language (1) translation (2) multilingualism (3)
• Attendance: 26 were able to attend: 12 LiASIG members and 14 non-members; 10 of the 12 were members of BAAL. 3 non-members of the LiASIG have since become members.
• Visas: Unfortunately, would-be African participants continue to have problems as one P-G student who had an abstract accepted (though studying in Europe) had visa approval greatly delayed and was unable to attend.
• Costing: The minimal conference fees of £35 non-BAAL members; £25 BAAL members; £20 unwaged still seem to be about right to cover conference expenses with a slight margin (calculations based mainly on a day’s catering package).
• Mary Anderson organised a Book Exchange for the Conference.

4.3 31st August 2017: LIA SIG Colloquium at BAAL Conference
The topic of the colloquium was ‘The role of language in development in sub-Saharan Africa’. Four speakers (Hywel Coleman, John Clegg, Elizabeth Erling and Ian Cheffy) presented papers, followed by a roundtable discussion led by Colin Reilly. The colloquium attracted an audience of 30-40, who participated in a lively manner. It was felt by the organisers to have been a very worthwhile endeavour, covering a topic not considered elsewhere in the conference.


SIG members find the BAAL conference is too expensive to attend unless they have institutional support to do so. Three of the four speakers in the colloquium had to pay their own expenses, as had some of the committee members. Costs run into over 200 pounds for each person on average to attend for one day. This causes great difficulty for students who have passed a PhD but no longer receive funding, and for part time or retired academics. We note that this topic was also considered t the general SIG meeting at the conference, so it is clearly a concern to other SIGs also.


4.4.12th May 2017: AGM at the Annual Meeting, University of Reading

The main items:

a) Publications – papers presented at the two previous annual meetings are being prepared for publication. The SIG responded to a call from Routledge to contribute a chapter in their forthcoming Teaching of English to Young Learners. The SIG provided two reviewers for a projected book on corpora in Africa.
b) Continued growth of our web/social media presence.
c) Arrangements for LiASIG Annual Conference at School of African and Oriental Studies, London, in May 2018 (hopefully 11th May, date to be confirmed).

4.5. 31st August 2017: An open committee meeting after presentations at the BAAL conference.

The main items:

a) Locations for annual LiASIG conferences confirmed as 2018 (SOAS) and 2019 (University of Portsmouth). Suggested theme for 2018: African Languages in Public Spaces: Opportunities and Issues.
b) Action: GW to contact Prof Friederike Lupke at SOAS re booking rooms, confirming date and suggestions for keynote speaker.
c) Updates from Treasurer and Webmaster.
d) A number of publications are underway: proceedings from 2015 conference, publication from 2016 conference on language & technology in Africa plus Young Learners chapter. Proceedings of BAAL 2017 colloquium could be published. Some discussion about whether we should be aiming for special issues of journal or edited books, many in favour of the former. Action: GW, AI and EY to follow up on progress of various publications.
e) Convenor felt that despite our successful Newsletter, and communications via Facebook and Twitter, too much of the communication was one way, i.e. Europe to Africa. Action: GW to invite African regional representatives previously identified by SiG committee to report conferences, academic societies, publications etc in their area.
f) Update on finances. Due to comfortable finances we could explore the possibility of providing travel scholarships for our annual conference, but principles and amounts to be established. Action: IC to draft proposal.
g) Books for Africa project – possibility of implementing this again but possibly focussing on a few African institutions in greatest need. Action: committee member to be identified who would approach publishers and also think about who might need books in Africa.

a) Report of current Convenor, Goodith White
The last year has been a busy one for publications. We were asked by Professor Sue Hunston to provide reviewers for a publication on language corpora for varieties of English in Africa. A chapter on teaching young learners in Africa is being written by Medadi Ssentanda and Marriote Ngwaru for a book edited by Sue Garton for Routledge . A publication based on the 2016 conference is also being planned but we are concerned that it should be accessible to African scholars.
We are very grateful to Friederike Lupke and Mario Saraceni for agreeing to host the 2018 and 2019 conferences respectively.

b) Report of the web manager, Abdulmalik Ofemile

The group’s online presence includes, a Facebook page, Twitter handle and a website managed in an integrated manner using the weekly Newsletter as the link.
Social Media – we have a private Facebook group for members (this is still the most popular platform voted for by members in the social media survey that was sent out last year). Membership has grown to 54 members and the group can be found at or by searching ‘BAAL LIA SIG members’. Facebook page is used for sharing the newsletter link ( ), a PDF copy of the newsletter, other information relevant to the group’s focus and it is also used to generate discussions on issues.
The twitter handle for the SIG is @BAAL_LIA_SIG and can be found at is also active. It has 46 followers and is used for sharing the weekly newsletter and other information promoting the activities of the group and BAAL
The LiASIG website ( ) – hosts information about the group, conferences, past and ongoing projects, membership, the newsletter and a blog. The webpage is linked to Facebook and Twitter through the newsletter page because it provides weekly information on funding, scholarships, resources and publications.

The LiASIG is continuing to grow and thrive. A recent survey undertaken by the Secretary, Colin Reilly, elicited the following comments about the benefits particular members felt they gained from the SIG:
• Networking and strong sense of community
• Documenting the African languages as many are not developed due to a negative attitude by their native speakers as they seem not to be valued even by policy makers
• Providing a platform for language specialists and enthusiasts to interact and exchange ideas.
• Information and networking. The conference is really great!
In the upcoming year we would like to focus on ensuring that the flow of information in our newsletter and on our website comes from Africa as well as Europe, and mentoring young researchers in writing for publication.

Goodith White, LiASIG Convenor.

September 15th, 2017

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