Previous Conferences

Our 2019 Conference

Theme‘Language and Decolonisation in 21st Century Africa’

Took place on Friday May 10th 2019 at the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics, University of Portsmouth, UK

You can download the Programme Here

Our 2018 Conference

African Languages in Public Spaces: Opportunities & Challenges

Our 2018 Annual Conference took place on the 11th of May at the School of African & Oriental Studies, University of  London.

You can  download Selected Presentations;  programmebook of abstracts and Speaker biographies.

Our 2017 Conference

The full programme for our 2017 conference: BAAL_LIA _SIG-programme-12th-May-2017

For all abstracts Click here: ALL_Abstracts_LiASIG_2017

For Speaker biographies click here: Biopic for LiA SIG Conference

Download our conference flyer: Flyer_REGISTER_LiASIG_Conf_Reading_12th-May-2017

The programme can be downloaded here: BAAL_LIA _SIG-programme-12th-May-2017

 ‘Language without Borders: Multilingual Communication in Africa and the Diaspora’

May 12th, 2017

Dept. of English Language & Applied Linguistics, University of Reading.

Registration Room: Chancellors G04 

9.15-10.00         Registration & Coffee

WELCOME         ROOM : Chancellors G02

10.00-10.15       INTRODUCTION by LiA SIG Convenor                          Annette Islei


SESSION 1         10.15-12.30 Room Chancellors G02 Chair:  Ross Graham

10.15-10.45       Challenging the Monolingual Classroom: Translingual Interaction in Rwandan Schools       Katherine Spowage

10.45-11.15       Translanguaging Teaching in Kenya: Challenges & Opportunities                               Eowyn Chrisfield

11.15-11.30 COFFEE BREAK Room: Chancellors G04

11.30-12.00       Language Choice for the Deaf in Nigeria                                                                               Onyedikachi Grace Abiodun-Ekus

12.00-12.30       Student Attitudes towards University Language Policy in Malawi- a Multilingual Solution?         Colin Reilly

12.30-13.30 LUNCH Room: Chancellors G04

Slide-show “Literacy teaching in Northern Nigeria” (Mary Anderson) and Book Exchange

PLENARY     13.30-14.30 Room: Chancellors G02 Chair: Annette Islei

13.30-14.30       Multilingualism without Borders: Perspectives on Language and Development in Multilingual Casamance                                     

Friedericke Lupke



SESSION 2          14.30-16.00 PARALLEL SESSIONS

Room :     Chancellors G04           Chair:  Ian Cheffy                        

14.30-15.00       Discursive Construction of Multilingualism in Education Language Policy for Lower Primary School Classes in Nigeria       

Christian Adebayo          

  15.00-15.30       Traditional African Communalism & Education    

Marianne Aaron

15.30-16.00       Definitely Endangered? The Initiatives of Indigenes in saving Olukumi.                                                                                                  

Omola Mercy Odu


Room :    Chancellors G02            Chair: Colin Reilly                        

14.30-15.00       The Influence of L2 English on the speech rhythm of L1 Setswana in the speech of Setswana-English bilingual children aged 6-7 years                           Boikanyego Sebina                                                        

15.00-15.30       Low-cost quality Mother Tongue Primary  Education in Sub Saharan Africa – a Dream or Reality?                                                                      Annukka Kinnaird

15.30-16.00       Fluid Boundaries: Linguistic Knowledge& Multilingual Discourse in Casamance                                                                                              

Rachel Watson


16.00-16.20 Coffee Break. Room: Chancellors G04

SESSION 3          16.20-17.20   Room : Chancellors G02         Chair: Annette Islei

16.20-16.50       Translating Administrative Documents from French to English for a Ugandan Audience: A Sociolinguistic and Pragmatic Approach      

Enoch Sebuyungo

16.50-17.20      Non-professional Interpreting in a Gambian Church: Frames of Reference                                                                                                              

Jill Karlik

CONCLUSION    17.20-18.00    Room : Chancellors G02

17.20-17.50       Round up of day and SIG Meeting

17.50-18.00       CLOSE by LiA SIG Convenor                                                Annette Islei

Our 2016 Conference

The full programme for our 2016 conference: LiASIG-PROGRAMME 6th May 2016.

For all the abstracts for the conference click here.

Our 2015 Conference

Conference Programme:

For an idea of the range of speakers and variety of topics we discuss at our annual conference, have a look through our 2015 programme.

BAAL Language in Africa SiG Annual Conference 2015

‘Developing languages in Africa: social and educational perspectives’

Aston University, May 22nd, 2015

9.15-10.15 REGISTRATION and Coffee.

10.15-10.20 WELCOME from Aston University

10.20-10.30 INTRODUCTION to the Day (LiASIG Convenor, Ross Graham)

SESSION 1: Chair: Ross Graham

10.30 – 11.00 Kolawole: ‘Examination of sociopolitical problems against the development of indigenous languages in Nigeria’

11.00-11.30 Ngaka: ‘Pride or Curse! Exploring perceptions, assumptions, attitudes and challenges associated with teaching and studying Lugbarati in schools in NW Uganda’

11.30-12.00 Islei and Baleeta: Fly on the wall: Developing literacy pedagogy for a Bantu language in Kabarole District, western Uganda’

12.00-12.30 Inyega: ‘Language of education in early childhood: Nuts and bolts for effective Emergent Literacy instruction’

LUNCH: 12.30 – 13.30

13.30-14.30 PLENARY: Lutz Marten. ‘Three contexts of language development in Africa’

Chair: Caroline McGlynn

SESSION 2 Chair: Annette Islei

14.30 – 15.00 Edward: ‘Signing Out: Linguistic contact and possible endangerment of the Adamorobe Sign Language’

15.00-15.30 Ekpo and Yevudey: ‘Code choices among Oro and Ewe Speakers: A sociolinguistic insight’

15.30-15.50 COFFEE BREAK

SESSION 3 Chair: Lutz Marten

15.50-16.20 Owiti: ‘Naming choices in Dholuo– English courtroom interpretation’

16.20-16.50 Caines: ‘Building Natural Language Processing tools for Runyakitara

16.50-17.30 ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION on Language Development in Africa

17.30 SIG meeting

Report from our 2015 Annual Conference

Written by Ross Graham

Language in Africa SIG: Developing Languages in Africa: Social and educational perspectives

2015’s LiASIG meeting saw a rich array of papers, with participants travelling from Africa and Norway as well as the UK, and lively discussion of the opportunities and challenges associated with the development of indigenous African languages. In his plenary, Lutz Marten (SOAS) set out three contexts of language development: institution driven (official policies), community driven and ‘crowd driven’. Community-driven initiatives may concern vernacular literacy in schools and the community and issues of standardisation, and are essentially collaborative in nature. ‘Crowd-driven’ refers to unplanned language development deriving from language contact, where language spread and innovation occurs through informal social networks and social media. The four morning papers focused on the challenges of developing indigenous language with a focus on education. Clement Kolawole (University of Ibadan) discussed the very limited success of the National Institute for Nigerian Languages (NINLAN) in developing and standardising the orthographies of Nigerian languages, and producing textbooks. The main reason was inadequate funding, demonstrating the generally negative evaluation of indigenous languages within the wider society and lack of commitment. Willy Ngaka (Makerere University) presented the situation in Uganda, where local languages are required as medium of instruction in Grades 1-3, and a few languages, such as Lugbarati, are now being taught and examined in secondary schools. His research in schools revealed a mainly positive valuation of Lugbarati and employment prospects. However, challenges included the new orthography, lack of reading texts, and inadequate teacher training, while negative public opinion on the real-world value of Lugbarati demoralized teachers. In order to change negative attitudes and develop local languages in Africa, he argued that close partnership between local government, academics, traditional/cultural institutions, community-based organizations and NGOs is needed. Annee Islei (Mountains of the Moon University) and Margaret Baleeta (Bugema University) found in the same Uganda context that children were struggling to learn to read through their local language. Their investigation, partly supported by the BAAL Linguistic Activity Fund, revealed a specific problem in the Primary 1 curriculum and Teacher’s Guide which recommends the whole word method of teaching reading. Working with local teachers and trainers they uncovered a traditional syllabic method which proved to be far more effective. They suggested it could be lack of study and research into local languages at the university level that had hindered development of an appropriate reading pedagogy; they also recommended that phonics might provide a bridge between learning to read in the Bantu language researched and English. Hellen Inyega (University of Nairobi) discussed the challenge of developing a conceptual framework from both relevant international research and research into local contexts in order to produce appropriate pedagogies and resources. In Kenya, English is the de facto medium of instruction, and this is not working well. Recent research has shown that there is a much lower correlation between reading fluency and reading comprehension in students’ L2 than in their L1. The presenter called for a pedagogical shift in teacher education towards translanguaging techniques, together with a focus on locally developed texts and innovative use of technology, e.g. mobile phones.

The four afternoon papers focused on sociolinguistic issues and language development through digital means. Elvis Yevudey (Aston University) and Golden Ekpe (SOAS) investigated the social and discursive motivations for codeswitching in multilingual communities, and community attitudes. They offered examples from Ghana (Ewe), and Nigeria (Oro). In the predominantly Oro community, code-switching tended to be evaluated positively as an affirmation of multilingual identity, while in the Ewe community awareness of interlocutors’ limited linguistic competences was the main motivation. Language contact and language shift were also the theme of Mary Edward’s (University of Bergen) presentation on the Adomorobe Sign Language used in an Akan-speaking area of SE Ghana where there is an unusually high incidence of hereditary deafness. It is believed that Adomorobe was the first formal signed language developed in Africa, and both deaf and hearing villagers have long made use of it. However, ASL is now highly endangered, partly due to the founding of a school for the deaf in a neighbouring village which means that younger deaf people now mainly use Ghanaian Sign Language. Certain situations highlight the negative consequences of unequal access to linguistic resources. As local languages can be used in the courtrooms of Nyanza province, Kenya, interpreters are needed. Beatrice Owiti (University of Huddersfield) gave revealing insights into subtle changes of meaning in interpretation between English and Dholuo – for example, due to the need for multi-word paraphrases of abstract legal terms, “defilement” becomes “you raped a young child”; lack of nominalization in Dholuo changes “Being in possession of chang’aa” into an accusation: “You are charged that you were found with chang’aa.” Additionally, interpreters often lack competence as there are no formal standards for accreditation. As noted by Baleeta and Islei, there is little research into indigenous African languages in Africa. The increase of education through English, especially in urban areas, means there is a general threat to intergenerational transmission. Funded through the Cambridge Africa programme, researchers at Cambridge University (Caines, Buery) and Makerere University (Katushemererwe) are building Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools for Runyakitara, a group of Bantu languages spoken in Uganda. Following the compilation of spoken and written corpora, the aim is to build an online grammatical error checker. It is hoped that such tools may be integrated into CALL applications, and act as a test case for the revitalization of endangered languages through education and technology (Katushemererwe & Nerbonne 2015).