Teachers from across Africa and beyond, last week met in Kigali to deliberate on ways to improve teaching of English.
The meeting brought together over 300 participants from Africa, Middle East, the USA as well as from the UK.
It was held at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC) Kigali under the theme “New Horizon in English Language teaching”.
Participants were members of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a professional association with a mission to ensure excellence in English language for people who speak other languages.
Dr Okon Effiong, the founder of TESOL Africa, said the conference was an opportunity to bring together teachers from across the continent and all over the world to learn from each other, discuss challenges as well as share experiences to get new ways of teaching English better.
“The major challenge is the resources. We do not have facilities, the funding of language education is not big, teachers need training, we need language text materials, and all these need money. When the governments are committed and set aside money to do this, then English language can improve,” he said.
“Teachers should make more effort to be creative so that the students get interested and learn how to both speak and write English. We also need technology because without technology we cannot make it in this age,” he added.
According to Richard Niyibigira, head of the Association of Teachers of English in Rwanda, the conference enabled them learn from each other on how to improve their profession.
He said currently teachers in Rwanda face challenges associated with old teaching methods where the focus was on grammar rather than communication skills.
Other challenges he said are associated with the recent shift from French to English as a language of instruction where many of teachers with a French background are yet to master English language.
“What will be introduced is to give the students much more time to talk and use their language skills. That will give them a chance to better develop their skills. We have had a chance to learn all the new methodologies from the conference,” he said.
Juliet Muhoza, a teacher from GS Kanombe, said the training was so helpful.
“We have really benefited a lot from this conference; it is a good platform for networking. We got to meet with teachers from different corners and learned from them how to improve on our weaknesses when teaching English,” she said.