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UNDERSTANDING APPLIED

LINGUISTICS

Victor B. Owhotu (2007)

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stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or
otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

An Inaugural Lecture Delivered at the


University of Lagos Main Auditorium
On Wednesday, 28th February, 2007
Published 2007

By
By

PROFESSOR V.B. OWHOTU


B.A; Litt; PGDE; M.A; Ph.D. (Sorbonne)

Professor of Curriculum Studies and French Language


Education
Faculty of Education
University of Lagos

University of Lagos Press


Unilag P. O. Box 132,
University of Lagos,
Akoka, Yaba Lagos,
Nigeria.
e-mail: unilagpress@yahoo.com

ISSN 1119-4456

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DEDICATION
This lecture is dedicated to the evergreen memories of :
My late mother Mrs. Matilda Juliana Owhotu (nee Roberts) of the
Gambia,1909-1967,school teacher, concert soprano, multilingual,
whose love, stance on discipline, blessing and enduring words
of wisdom have kept me on track since she passed on forty
years ago,
and
My late wife Mrs. Chinyere Owhotu (nee Uduka), B.A. (Chicago).
M.A. (Vermont), M.Sc (Lagos), of Abriba, Abia State, 1948-1998.
Words cannot fully illustrate her love, deep faith in my potentials,
and her selfless dedication to the welfare of the family.

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iv

UNDERSTANDING APPLIED LINGUISTICS

is being applied? In the 1960s, one was sure of linguistics as a


theoretical field of study but not so of its applications.

PREAMBLE
This lecture is in two parts. In the first, I shall briefly examine the
concept, some underlying issues and contents of modern applied
linguistics. In the second, I shall present a few examples of my
research-based experiences of thinking and doing applied
linguistics, drawn mainly from the subfields of French curriculum
studies and special educational linguistics.

Nonetheless, certain features of the initial concept of applied


linguistics covered basically a body of knowledge of linguistic
theory, and the relevant aspects of content: language- lexis and
structure, phonology, semantics, and their importance for a
general theory of language, but which was not of immediate
professional interest to language teachers. Also important to note
is that linguists (theorists) found little or no esteem among
language teachers (practitioners).The reasons were telling.
Whereas the former were considered good at propounding
theories often far removed from the contextual realities of teaching
and learning, the latter were either ignorant of the theorists trade,
or cared less about it, relying instead upon pragmatism, handson experience and intuition to do their work, not on alien theories.
This crisis of confidence was not peculiar to linguists and
language teachers. Curriculum studies was considered a core
of educational theorizing in the ivory tower. As Pinar et al
(1990:850) observed:

INTRODUCTION
Understanding applied linguistics may not be possible except
through a conscious and sustained process of multidisciplinary
and interdisciplinary knowledge-building, thinking and doing; not
knowledge-building, or thinking, or doing. Knowledge-building is
a crucial condition for analyzing and interpreting the structures,
contents and core values of the constituent disciplines of applied
linguistics. Thinking involves rational, reflective, critical thinking,
pondering the state of reality, raising issues and questions about
problems, challenges, theories, principles and practices,
rationalizing results of research, and careful and efficient planning
of the teaching and learning objectives, processes, strategies ,
outcomes and output. Doing or action derives from knowledgebuilding and thinking and seeks to apply and evaluate the
products of knowledge-building and thinking through the use of
conventional or innovative, creative, imaginative, but productive
or effective methods, strategies and techniques. These include
actual teaching, learning, training, research, development and
diffusion, monitoring and assessment.

The deep polarization between the linguist and practitioner was


echoed by Chandelier (1977:25) in these words:

Qui a mis dans la tte des enseignants que la

What is Applied Linguistics?


Applied linguistics has been thought to be a difficult concept to
define. Arguments have raged over the key question: what exactly

linguistique pouvait leur servir quelque chose dans


leur enseignement ? {Whoever told teachers that
linguists could be of any use to them in their
classrooms ?}

education professors were distant from teachers. In


general it was clear that teachers were skeptical of
education professors even in the 1970s teachers did
not regard us as friends and certainly not as experts. If
teachers have been skeptical of the contributions
education professors might make to school
improvement, many politicians , and even the general
public have been, at times, downright contemptuous.

Quand un manuel, un livre est crit par un chercheur,


un thoricienJe ne lutilise pas, s il est fait par un
pdagogue (praticien) je le prends.{If a book or manual
is written by a researcher, a theorist, I wont touch it. If
it is written by a practitioner, Ill use it.}

However, the works of an emerging generation of the linguist


teacher-researcher in the early 1970s, such as William F. Mackay,
Bernard Quemada, Robert Gallisson, Daniel Coste, Louis
Porcher, David Wilkins and Henry Widdowson would contribute
significantly to reducing the gap, first between theory and practice
in second and foreign language education, and then between
theorists and practitioners. According to Kaplan(2002), the term
applied linguistics first appeared in the 1940s when language
teachers were driven by the urge to dissociate themselves from
teachers of literature and ally themselves with scientific linguists.
Furthermore, by the mid 1950s onwards, applied linguistics
became associated with the considerable interest that languge
teachers had in structural linguistics and the prospects and
implications of Skinnerian psychology for the dominant teaching
method of the time, known as the audiolingual method. Then
followed the launch of national associations of applied linguistics
and university programmes (for example the University of
Edinburgh) and specialized centres (for example Le Centre de
linguistique applique, Besancon, France).
The greatest catalysts in bridging the divide were the launch of
the International Association for Applied Linguistics(AILA) and
that of the Council of Europes Modern Language Project.
De Gomes (2005) defines the notion and contents of applied
linguistics:
Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary oriented
domain, still too narrowly based and dependent on
linguistics and aimed at a deeper understanding of
human linguistic interactions in various contexts and
at exploring ways to help improve the quality of
human communicative growth and development
(.) What should applied linguistics be, Id rather

use could than should, so as to avoid a possible


reading of something imposed, dogmatic. Applied
linguistics could become a field committed and
dedicated to an in-depth, open-ended, permanent,
universal (rather than predominantly, AngloAmerican or European centered) search for an
interdisciplinary understanding and/or solution of
individual and collective communicative problems
of acquisition, learning and teaching of languages
in varied and variable contexts. Another crucial
mission for applied linguistics could be that of
helping to contribute to a more critical
comprehensive preparation of applied linguists as
new constructors and transformers of sociocultural
and political realities through the means of linguistic
expression and communication. That so many
human beings are being linguistically and culturally
undervalued and exploited also merits high priority
attention by applied linguistics.

Grabe (2002:3-12) states that early or first generation applied


linguistics was dominated by issues of language teaching but
that while this relation continues in the parent, the field has
diversified. This diversity first became manifest at the landmark
World Congress of the International Association of Applied
Linguistics (AILA) held in Brussels, Belgium in 1984. The event
brought together for the first time, scholars from a wide range of
backgrounds: linguistics, applied linguistics, medicine,
educational planning, human and cultural rights organisations,
anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists etc. The abstracts
of papers presented were in four volumes in a total of 1762 pages!
Volume one made up of the 1-11/2 page abstracts, focused on
three sub-themes (a) language problems in developing countries,
(b) language and society, and (c) language and mind. In Volume
II, contributions spread over 495 pages and addressed issues of
language teaching and learning, while volume III focused on
communication and interaction, and logico-linguistics. Volume
IV was dedicated to the AILA scientific commissions symposia.

In one of the special AILA symposia, several discerning scholars


reviewed the relationship of linguistics and applied linguistics
(Bugarski, 1984: 1686; Eliasson, 1984; 1689; Kuttlwein, 1984:
1692; Marton (1984; 1694; 1984: 1695) while Tomic, (1984: 1696)
focused on the integrity of applied linguistics.
What was clear from the compendium was that applied linguistics
pre-1984 was undergoing profound change across disciplines
and in all fields where language and language related issues
were involved. It also showed that the polarization between
theoreticians and practitioners had become much less
pronounced, thanks to the increasing knowledge base and
certification levels of practitioners and the new enhanced
professional role of teachers as thinkers and researchers,
especially action researchers. Grabe W. (2002: 3-12) further
emphasizes the importance and growing diversity of applied
linguistics in its post-1984 role as the advocate and facilitator of
action-oriented problem-solving. In his view applied linguistics
is driven first by real-world problems rather than theoretical
explorations. In other words, the applied linguist should be
preoccupied by the following:

Language learning problems (emergence, awareness,


rules, use, context, automaticity, attitudes and expertise;

Language teaching problems (resources, training,


practice, interaction, understanding, use, contexts,
inequalities, motivations, outcomes);

Literacy problems, (linguistic and learning issues);

Language contact problems (language and culture);

Language inequality problems such as (ethnicity, class,


gender, and age);

Language policy and planning problems (status planning,


corpus planning, and ecology of language);

Language assessment problems (validity, reliability,


usability, responsibility);

Language use problems (dialects, registers, discourse


communities, gate-keeping situations, limited access to
services);
Language and technology problems (learning,
assessment, access and use);
Translation and interpretation problems (on-line, off-line,
technology assisted); and
Language pathology problems (aphasia, dyslexia,
physical disabilities).

(Kaplan (2002: v-x) highlights the multi/interdisciplinary


framework of the issues and challenges of applied linguistics:
Because the real world language-based problems that
applied linguistics tries to mediate are enormously
diverse, having in common only the probability that
they are language based, it is unlikely that any single
paradigm can speak to the diverse activity of the field.
Depending on the setting of a given problem, the
applied linguist/practitioner may be expected to know
something about at least the following: Anthropology,
Economics, Education theory, Gerontology, History,
International Relations, Language learning and
teaching, Lexicology, Planning, Policy development,
Political science, Psychology and Neurology, Public
Administration, Sociology, Curriculum Studies and
Teacher training and Text production; Advance
knowledge in particular languages, Multicultural
education, Educational measurement, Applied
linguistics... .
Of course, since the common element is language,
the applied linguist ought to be well grounded in
linguistics, psycho neurolinguistics, and sociolinguistics including literacy, individual bilingualism
and societal multilingualism. And all applied linguists
must be highly computer literate and able to deal
with statistical data.

Although by November 1980, when I submitted my Ph.D. (doctorat


de 3 cycle) thesis for examination, I had become aware that a
lot lay unexplored outside the boundaries of my doctoral work
titled: Essai sur les dsquilibres entre thories et pratique en
didactique des langues trangres (On the imbalance between
theory and practice in foreign language education), I had also
realised that there was a lot of remedial and enrichment work I
had to do. The 1984 AILA World Congress was the decisive
catalyst for me to embark upon the process of interdisciplinary
knowledge building, thinking and doing applied linguistics much
further afield, for a much better understanding of the phenomenon
of language and in as diverse a setting as possible.
THE GLOBAL CONTEXT OF APPLIED LINGUISTICS
It is surprising that over two decades after AILA 84, scholars still
engage in what Kaplan (2002) describes as a fairly heated public
discussion on the nature and scope of applied linguistics. This
need not be so if the conceptual principle is clearly understood:
that whatever domain involves language and/or a role for language
beyond traditional language teaching and learning is an integral
part of the inter/ multidisciplinary field of applied linguistics.
Furthermore, because of the very wide variety of contents of
applied linguistics, scholars should not expect a single unified
theory or paradigm, since, in practice, methodology simply
means a constant shift in ways and means of thinking and doing,
in line with the specifics of the paradigm.

enterprise forward, France


launched COFDELA (La
confdration franaise pour le dveloppement de la linguistique
applique) and organized its maiden inter association symposium
from January 18 to 20, 1996. Rather than attempt an
interdisciplinary integration, its watch-word was dialogue and
exchange of ideas and the mutual respect and coexistence of
each area of specialization-traditional and emerging-while
attempting to arrive at an inclusive understanding of the generic
term of applied linguistics: what is applied, to what domain and
how? (Marquillo and More,1996)
From the intensive interaction and the various presentations
across the disciplines, participants were more in agreement with
Povlets summation: Il conclut le colloque par une mtaphore
de mme que les tableaux noirs sont souvent de couleur verte,
en francais, la linguistique dite applique ne peut plus se
contenter de faire Iobjet dune lecture littrale. In other words,
one could not be too rigid about the concept of applied linguistics
in terms of independent disciplines or areas of knowledge, inquiry,
research and applicability; emphasis should be on the
pervasiveness of language in human and social life and
communication in the widest sense that have given rise to the
range of sub fields and supporting disciplines I have already
mentioned. My view of the new field of applied linguistics is
presented in Figure I.

Expectedly, this remarkable diversity would sooner or later


generate considerable tensions within AILA. By 1990 applied
linguistics had become a hydra-like monstrosity (Kaplan 2002)
that was to force the French Association of Applied Linguistics
(co-founder of AILA) to withdraw from membership of the global
body in 1992. It was precisely for reasons of apparent conceptual
and methodological inconsistencies or incompatibility, which
succeeding World Congresses of AILA had failed to resolve that
AILA was at the crossroads. In order to move the intellectual

The contemporary applied linguist is therefore expected to be a


very competent teacher , able to build rational scenarios for
solving a wide range of language related problems , competent
in the design and execution of conventional and innovative
research quantitative and especially qualitative, and to
constantly seek to validate existing theories derived from basic
research. His persistent quest for new knowledge drawn from
all the constituent disciplines, empowers him to contribute to
knowledge by developing among others, original and practical
theoretical models which are then used in practical areas such

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CURRICULUM STUDIES
LANGUAGE TEACHING
& LEARNING
Philosophy
Policy Analysis
Contrastive Linguistics
Psycholinguistics
Discourse Analysis
Sociolinguistics
Ed. Technology
Measurement & Eval.
Methodologies, environ for lang.
learning
Lang. for spec. purposes
Lexicology
Mothertongue
Second lang learning
Foreign Lang. Learning ICTs in
Lang. learning
Ethics, rights & values
Lang. Learning
Literacies
Pragmatics
Foreign Lang teacher edu.
Curriculum theory
Curriculum studies
Inst. Materials Devpt.
Teaching Style Analysis
Learning Style Analysis, etc.

LINGUISTICS

Phonetics
Phonology
Grammar
Semiotics
Semantics
Stylistics
Rhetorics
Poetics
Forensic Linguistics
Lexicology
Lexicography
Corpus Linguistics
Pragmatics
Discourse Analysis
Translation theory,
etc.

PSYCHOLOGY
OF LANGUAGE

Psycholinguistics
Biolinguistics
Lang. Devpt &
acquisition
Lang. and mind
Gerentology
Discourse
Analysis,
etc.

SOCIOLOGY
OF LANGUAGE

Sociolinguistics
Lang. & gender
Lang. in contact
Lang. loss & relearning
Ethics, rights &
values, etc.

FIGURE I: MULTI/INTERDISCIPLINARITY OF APPLIED LINGUISTICS

Philosophy of Language
Policy Analysis
Multilingualism
Immersion Education
Bilingual Education
Language Loss
Language rights
Minority Languages
Mothertongue education
Second language education
Literacies
Ethics, rights & values
Special education, etc.

Anthropo. Linguistics
Cultural Anthropology
Lang. & Subcultures
Gender
Historical Linguistics
Biological Linguistics,
etc.

Where does applied linguistics fit in the sociology of


knowledge?
What are the kinds of questions that applied linguists ought
to be addressing?
What are the dominant paradigms guiding research in
the field?
What part(s) of linguistics can be applied to the real-world
language-based problems that applied linguists presume
to mediate?
What kind(s) of problems can be solved through the
mediation of applied linguistics?
What does an aspiring applied linguist need to know?
That is, what should the content of graduate curricula in
applied linguistics be? (Kaplan, 2002).

LANG. PLANNING
& POLICY

CONCLUSION
I shall end this first part of my lecture with the following questions
that were central to the heated discussions during the 12th World
Congress of AILA held in Tokyo Japan in August 1999.

ANTHROPOLOGY

APPLIED LINGUISTICS

Clinical Linguistics
Language Disorder
Speech Disorder
- aphasia
- dyslexia
- dysgraphia
Fluency Disorder
- grammatical
- pragmatic
- stammering
- stuttering, etc.

SPECIAL
EDUCATIONAL
LINGUISTICS

as syllabus design, speech therapy, language planning, stylistics,


etc. The tasks and challenges the applied linguist faces in meeting
these expectations are considerable especially in a developing
environment like Nigeria.

SELECTED EXAMPLES OF THINKING AND DOING APPLIED


LINGUISTICS
In this second part of my lecture, I shall present four examples of
my research-based experiences of thinking and doing applied
linguistics drawn, respectively, from French curriculum studies
and special educational linguistics dealing with language
disorders. They are fairly representative of essential curriculum
theory building and practices with at least four ways of
approaching curriculum theory building and research: as a body
of knowledge to be transmitted (syllabus); as a product: an
attempt to achieve certain ends or behavioral objectives in the
learner; as a process, that is, the critical, negotiated, democratic,
informed interactions between teachers, knowledge, skills, values
and learners; and as praxis, informed, committed action (Smith,
1996, 2000). In the words of Grundy (1987: 115, quoted in Smith
2000) such a critical, rational process
develops through the dynamic interaction of action
and reflection. That is, the curriculum is not simply a
set of plans to be implemented, but rather is
constituted through active process in which planning,
acting and evaluating are all reciprocally related and
integrated into the processAt its centre is praxis,
informed, committed action..

The selected experiences that follow are driven by praxis, and


the role of empirical research in understanding phenomena
cannot be overemphasized. It is particularly important in the
interdisciplinary subfields of foreign language curriculum studies
and language disorders.

classroom in mainstream education. Curriculum history tells us


that it was in fact the development of special education methods
that pushed the frontiers of curriculum studies from its centuries
old focus on what to teach, or content, to questions about how to
bring about learning or emphasize abilities in disability. For
example the French physician Jean-Marc-Gaspard nicknamed
the apostle of the idiot and his pupil Edward Segan were pioneer
and consolidator respectively of methods of teaching the deaf
mute, while Maria Montessori another teacher of the handicapped
who was greatly influenced by their work, adapted their methods
for use in educating children of normal intelligence. (Egan, 2003:
9-16).
Long before my formal training as an applied linguist, I had been
exposed to special education quite early in my career in the
Federal Civil Service. As a clerk and Braille library assistant in
the Nigerian National Advisory Council for the Blind, I was familiar
with the early efforts at providing educational opportunities for
the visually challenged children at Pacelli School for the Blind
and, to some extent, the hearing-impaired at the Atanda Olu
School for the Deaf in Surulere. By the time I left the Civil Service
for this university, I had learnt three enduring lessons about the
handicapped or challenged: i) that indeed any mother could have
them, and unlike the popular BBC comedy I am echoing, this is
not a funny experience; ii) that there is ability in disability; and
(iii) that advocacy and empowerment through inclusive education
are the most potent tools to fight against untoward societal
attitudes and acts of discrimination and intolerance against special
target groups.

FIRST EXAMPLE: DISORDERS OF LANGUAGE


I would like to start with language disorders, the other side of the
coin of normal language development and education that is rarely
addressed in mainstream education, but that every trained
teacher, school head, and teacher trainer should be aware of,
monitor when they occur and address appropriately. Language
and language related learning problems abound in virtually every

The 1984 landmark World Congress of the International


Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA) that I have mentioned in
the first part of this lecture rekindled my interest in special
education and culminated in my first attempt at studying language
disorders in special educational institutions. In the build-up
therefore to my participation in that Congress, I had written a

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theoretical paper on deviant language and communication


(Owhotu 1984: 93-94). In a subsequent paper also
(Owhotu,1987:117-128), I discussed five major types of language
disorder as deviant sub-sets of otherwise normal, conventional
interactions of three pillars of human communication, Form,
Content and Use. The range of disorders are: (a) disorder of
form, (b) disorder of content; (c) disorder of use; (d) disorder of
interaction among form, content and use and in the worst case
(e) nil interaction (Bloom and Lahey 1978: 259-303). I also
highlighted issues, trends and challenges of the behavioral and
medical models of investigation carried out in foreign contexts,
while reiterating the need for Nigeria to address the dearth of
interest and research data, and the need for an integrated teacher
education both pre-service and in-service. As a follow up to the
two theoretical papers, I carried out an empirical study of language
disorder/development problems in two special educational
institutions in Lagos. Before presenting the high points of that
study we need to briefly characterize the five sub sets of disorders.
[Figure II].
Subset A1 shows a more congruent overlay of the content and
use components, whereas there is obvious disjunction of form.
This represents children whose ideas about the world of objects,
events and abilities to communicate these ideas are more intact
than their knowledge of the linguistic system for representing
them (Bloom and Lahey (1978:393). While Kleffner (1978) does
not think this as significant occurrences, I support Bloom and
Laheys position because, for methodological and conceptual
reasons, whatever deviates from the norm with implications for
easy, meaningful or total communication, deserves attention.

by 3-4 years compared to his normal peers; (b) weak


conceptual component, whereby his utterances are often times
cocktail party speech, superficial and irrelevant to the context
of speech.
Subset A 3: Here the language use component is disjointed.
The subjects knowledge of the conventional linguistic system
is more or less intact, use or transmission of such knowledge
(or linguistic competencies) suffers from inappropriateness of
context, or real communicative intent or purpose of the utterance
consequently, the listener is eclipsed and communication may
be reduced to rambling, repetitive, soliloquy, etc.
Subset A4 is a more serious problem and shows distorted
interactions among the major components of form, content and
use.
Subset A5 is a worst case scenario. There is fragmentation/
complete separation of the three components such that none
of the components appears to interact with the other. Such
(subject) children use stereotyped speech with utterances that
have little or no relation to the situation in which they occur or to
any recognizable content (Bloom and Lahey 1983: 302).

Subset A 2: In sub set A2, content is at risk, whereas the interaction


of form and use appears normal. Clinically, this means that
subjects are characterized by (a) weak conceptual development
in relation to ideas of the world that make up the content of
language and consequently, his developmental rate will be slower

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NORMAL

F
U

B.

A1

C.

A2

Disorder of CONTENT

Disorder of FORM

D.

A3

Disorder of USE
U

E.

A4

Disorder of INTERACTION

F.

A5

NIL Interaction

Insight from Special Education in Nigeria


The first major official policy statement on the purpose, context
and process of special education in Nigeria was reflected in the
National Policy of Education, 1977, 1981 (revised). The orientation
was clearly in favour of the education of children and adults who
have learning difficulty of different sorts (and, consequently)
unable to cope with the normal school class organization and
methods. Furthermore, the policy underlined the crucial concept
of integration, both at the level of the exceptional child and in
terms of a systematic campaign of awareness for social and
educational integration of the handicapped (NERC 1982). Section
10 of the 2004 National Policy on Education (4th. Edition) maintains
the spirit of the initial policy and further identifies three groups of
prospective beneficiaries of special education made up of the
disabled, the disadvantaged and the gifted or talented. In this
lecture, I shall limit myself to the first group. The fate of exceptional
children, including the linguistically challenged, has been for very
many decades compounded by the attendant social stigma in
the form of comments, gratuitous advice, criticism that
intensify for parents the feeling of isolation, shock, disappointment
(Basewell and Wingrave 1967, pp. 138-146). Until the late 60s, it
would appear, (even for developed countries) that the whole
purpose of special education had been to create an outlet- for
social and educational misfits and thereby facilitate the smooth
running of the state school system (Tomlinson, 1982:2). By 1985,
there were over 1,500 referred Nigerian children with different
categories of handicap in 28 special institutions. These figures
have risen significantly as there are more and better reception
centres, and intensified parental awareness campaigns by both
state governments and dedicated voluntary organizations.

Figure II. Normal and Deviant Patterns (sub sets) of


language disorder

15

The empirical literature on speech and language-related


disabilities has been phenomenal in the last two decades. This
development strongly reflects the extent to which this fairly new
branch of applied linguistics captures the interest of very many
academic and professional disciplines, including medicine,

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psychology, speech therapy and pathology, audiology, education,


sociology, linguistics, neurolinguistics, language teaching, and
psycholinguistics. Whereas speech problems refer primarily to
both segmental classes (phonemes: vowels, consonants) and
suprasegmental classes (intonation: tones, stress, rhythm, voice)
respectively, language disorders are far more serious and
neurologically determined. Most studies of disorders make the
distinction between developmental (congenital) and acquired
forms for example, central pathologies in children such like
aphasia, agnosia, apraxia, and dysarthria, which result from
dysfunction in the central nervous system, are generally regarded
as transient, while acquired aphasia (permanent loss of
established language skills) is normally associated with the adult
patient (Crystal 1980). Their analysis of discourse of adults with
language disorder provides a wide coverage of the problems of
production, expression, coherence, continuity, gesture
dominance, psychotic discourse, and other problems of
elicitation, vocabulary and minimum coding.
In the 1980s, only a few specialists, to my knowledge, had
attempted any systematic description of specific language
problems among Nigerian exceptional children (Okeowo and
Nwanze, 1980, Shaikh, 1982). Much of what was written fell within
the general theoretical and conceptual framework of special
education and the characterization of the main categories of
mentally and physically challenged. Thanks to the work of the
Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council
(NERDC).
I shall now present the highlights of our investigation in this allimportant aspects of special educational linguistics.
Purpose of the Investigation
The purpose of the study was to:
(i)
Attempt a systematic identification and description of
exceptional children with varying degrees of speech and

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(ii)

(iii)

language disabilities in two schools for handicapped


children in Lagos;
Profile the level of awareness of self, and other (through
a concept of self and other interview) and its possible
implications for the social and vocational integration of
the children;
Profile the special education teacher who remains the
most crucial instrument and agent of change in the context
of any education system-normal or special.

Subjects and Institutions


Two groups of subjects were involved in this study. The main
group consisted of 30 exceptional children and adolescents with
varying degrees of mental and linguistic disabilities drawn, as
said earlier, from two special institutions in Lagos State. The
second group was made up of special education personnel
comprising 18 special teachers, and 7 administrative and support
staff drawn from a total of four special education institutions on
the Lagos Mainland.
Instruments
The following instruments for data collection were used: A 28item questionnaire for special education personnel; a content
analysis grid (for NERC published documentation on special
teacher and other personnel), a subject observation schedule;
and a self-and-other concept interview schedule.
Procedure
The study was carried out in three phases: (I) Questionnaire
administration and Analysis of NERC published documents, (II)
Observation and Categorization of Subjects; and (III) Self and
Other Concept Interviews. Only results of phases II and III are of
immediate relevance here.

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PHASE II: Observation Categorization of Subjects


Both institutions presented subjects with a range of
subnormalities: total brain damage, speech and language
disorders, autism and echolalia, physical disabilities, slight and
severe mental retardation, cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome,
spasticity and absence, in a few cases, of any specific language
disorder.
The subject observation schedule was designed to provide, for
each subject, descriptive data in respect of: (a) Category of
handicap (b) Sex; (c) Chronological age; (d) Mental age (e)
Presentation (physical mental); (f) Speech, Language disability;
(g) Socialization level; (h) General awareness; (i) Prospects of
mainstream curriculum and vocational integration. With the kind
assistance of the consultant speech therapist and audiologist,
subjects were selected from case notes, then observed. Their
various presentations were discussed, and relevant data
recorded for each subject on the observation schedule. The
complete data is presented in Tables I and II.
Profiles of the Exceptional Subjects
i.

Speech/language disorders were indeed the most


characteristic observable manifestation among subjects
in the special education institutions. The mean mental
age of subjects was 4.7 years as against a mean,
chronological age of 13.0 years. This was very low and
made the realization of the stated goals of social,
curriculum and vocational integration doubtful. Although
the contact socialization level score of 36% of subjects
was found to be average, prospects of the integration of
subjects in terms of the lifecoping skills of language
(spoken and written) appeared very poor for at least 50%;
especially as they presented with strong motor
coordination problems. 60% of subjects rejected
unelicited verbal interaction with their peers.

19

Self-concept and Other Interview


The interviews were conducted by the senior teacher in English
and Yoruba languages based on the interview schedule. Out of
the seven categories of handicap interviewed, the total brain
damaged (2 subjects) had the greatest communication disorders,
with a total absence of speech, but for occasional grunts. The
echolalic category (1 subject) showed only rudimentary
communicative interaction; inaudible monosyllabic responses to
cues, punctuated with sporadic repetition of some items of the
interviewers questions, often the last word or two. However, the
slight mental retardation category (6 subjects) showed the highest
communicative awareness and achievement on the more difficult
items of social habits, concrete objects, space and dimensions
(see Tables I and II).
Rating on Self and Other Concept Interview (Table II)
The highest level of awareness was shown in subjects responses
to questions related to greetings (68.75%); and saying their
names (75.0%); (items 1, 2).
Average awareness scores were recorded on knowledge about
Daddys and Mummys whereabouts (56.25%), and of their
immediate school environment, 50.0%; (items, 8, 9.)
The lowest awareness scores were recorded for correctly telling
their age (25.0%); friends name (31.25%); reason for their peers
presence (6.25%); whether they had any brothers and sisters
(31.25%): (Items 4, 5, 7, 8, 10).
Self-and-other Concept Interview
The following findings were very important for personality and
socio-cultural and socio-educative theorizing.
i.
Subjects concept awareness level of their social habits
was low, with only 39.5% appropriate response to the
questions whether they drank beer and smoked
cigarettes; (items 12, 13).
ii.
There was a very high awareness among subjects of
their sociocultural habits. For instance, in response to

20

iii.
iv.

v.

the question do you like dancing? 96.5% said yes, and,


to the request for them to dance,81.25% did (items 14a
and 14b).
Very high ratings were recorded of subjects awareness
of concrete classroom objects, (items 17, 18, 19).
There was a very low awareness rate of dimensions
based on questions about the interviewers height and
size: only 25% rightly disagreed that the interviewer was
very fat, and very short: (items 15 and 16).
Only 31.25% correctly identified the time of day when they
were being interviewed (in the afternoon}. The rest said
it was in the evening or at night. (item 21)

The results had strong implications for the special education


language curriculum. The result of the self-and-other- concept
interview provided some fundamental areas in which
reinforcement was urgently needed especially in language skills
acquisition and socialization. While 75% of the subjects
responded positively to the interviewers greetings, and could
say their name, all gave grossly incorrect chronological age. Only
4 out of the 16 subjects could name his or her perceived friend.
While most subjects identified the location of interview as school
and that they were in the institution to learn (sise) (Yoruba), their
peers, were, in their opinion, there to play (sere). Most of the
subjects agreed that they smoked cigarettes and drank beer!
Their concept of height, size and volume was very low; night and
day, for example, were a conceptual blank for more than 55% of
them. This is an interesting area for congruency theory in special
psychology, although with this set of subjects, one may not talk
of dynamism of normal human interaction, personal and
interpersonal. Secord and Backman (1974: 516) provide the
conventional setting for self-concept and concept of other, which
contrasts rather sharply from the situation I observed. Because
of his possession of language and a superior intelligence, man
has a unique capacity for thinking about his body, his behaviour,
his appearance to other persons.

21

In other words, he is able to objectify himself first, thereby


establishing a basis for objectifying others. This is the key to
human communication. A notable methodological contribution
in this regard is the linguistic profiling technique (Crystal 1982),
which underscores the need for educators, researchers and
clinicians to first make very systematic descriptions of the
subjects linguistic behaviour at the phonological, grammatical
and semantic levels. Thus, an expectancy profile is arrived at,
and only then can a programme of early prevention, or remediation
be designed. For very practical reasons this approach is much
preferred to the medical model, which emphasizes etiology and
etiological syndromes that in any case, neither address the
problems raised nor quantify or profile samples of the subjects
linguistic competence or performance. As Kleffner (1978:6.)
affirms: No amount of information about a childs genetic
background, medical history, developmental history, diseases,
or family interruptions can ever serve as the basis for identifying
language disorder.
This has been well illustrated very recently by a postgraduate
student of mine, who teaches in the university staff school, which
I shall now discuss.

22

23
24
***For these two items the expected response was No

31.25

81.25

81.25

75.0

12.50

25.0

81.25

68.5

39.5

39.5

At the beginning of my 2004/2005 lectures on Applied Linguistics


and Foreign Language Education, an M.Phil. student of mine
had wished to know what the language disorder component in
the course outline was all about. I pointed to three books on the
shelf and said she could read up and submit a written summary
as her first assignment! When she brought the assignment, she
quite excitedly broke what I considered good news indeed. Having
read the books, she concluded that certain strange behaviours
she had observed among some of her pupils were beginning to
make sense. We discussed her observations and agreed the
need for some clinical/case study of the problem. She undertook
a preliminary study of three of the pupils on the four (English)
language skills of oral comprehension, speaking, reading, and
writing.
Her findings, which I summarize here, were based on social and
linguistics profiling of three subjects (See Table III)
Subject I (Male)
Social Profile: (described as) amiable, hyperactive and less
attentive in class.
Linguistic profile: He speaks English and Yoruba. His speech
is comprehensible but he responds to questions in
monosyllables. He reads words like no and map as on and
pam respectively. Apart from the words he has memorized, his
pronunciation is bizarre, often with no relationship with the sounds
of the designated words ... He also experienced difficulty with the
construction of simple sentences of four to six words in length.
Despite the fact that the pupil was receiving customized lessons
to improve his linguistic competence, his class teacher remarked
that he made little progress.
Subject 2 (Female)
Social profile: Speaks Yoruba and English. Sometimes gives the
impression of someone who is lost in thought, and emotionally
disturbed. Talks sparingly repeated class I and also repeating
class 3.

25

Linguistic profile:
Her spoken language is comprehensible
can hardly read simple words of four to five letters, but oral
comprehension is fairly satisfactory. She often searches for
words to express herself . Simple sentence construction is a
major problem. She finds it difficult to correctly copy from the
blackboard despite evidence of satisfactory vision.
Subject 3 (Female)
Social Profile: Always gay and found in the company of her
friends almost talkative . Remains attentive in class
repeating the class.
Linguistic Profile:
For her, tense agreement is
inconsequential. Her ability to do written comprehension is
doubtful, at times she writes out of content. She appears to have
a good memory because she often recollects what she has just
heard or listened to.
Table III: Prevalence of observed problems among the
three subject
Skill

Speaking

Reading

Comprehension

Behaviour

Writing

Source: compiled from

Dysfluency in normal conversation


Incomplete grammatical structure.
Improper use of words and meaning
Mispronunciation of words
Foreshortening of words
Frequent
Sequent hesitations
hesitation when reading
Inappropriate intonation when reading
poor phonemic awareness
Directional confusion
Word finding difficulty
Fragmentation of sentence meaning
into smaller and poorly related chunks
Difficulty
in
answering
oral
comprehension questions
Difficult
answering
written
comprehension questions
Letter reversal
Number reversal
Letter inconsistencies
inconstitencies (shape / size)
Unfinished letters
Difficulty copying from the blackboard.
Chugbo (2005)

26

Subjects
exhibiting
behaviour
behavior

0
2
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3

1
1
3
2
2
2
1
2

As I say, this was a welcome event. As a preliminary in-class


investigation, much more work remains to be done on a whole
school-to-school basis for us to be able to influence necessary
reform in terms of teacher awareness ,management training and
integrative or inclusive learning. Nonetheless, this development
corroborates our conclusions made over 20 years ago, still valid
and urgent, that mainstream teachers do need to be aware of
the range of language related problems that exists in almost every
classroom; be trained to recognize signs and symptoms and
make appropriate interventions or, better, refer cases to the school
head and parents for professional advice. Lack of awareness on
the part of teachers and school heads might well mean rejection,
frustration, underachievement and perhaps the end of the road
for the child.
Current Issues and Directions in Special Educational
Linguistics
The current literature is extremely rich on learning difficulties in
the foreign language (FL) classroom. There are excellent
historical reviews of the trends since the 1970s, by Ganschow
and Sparks (2001:79 98) and Sparks (1995). Certain
fundamental issues raised including lessons and directions for
language disabilities and linguistics in general.
Ganschow and Sparks (2001) distinguish between learners at
risk, and those with learning disabilities in the foreign language
classroom. At risk individuals refer to those who have failed or
exhibited inordinate difficulties facing FL courses in school,
whereas the term learning disabilities is used to refer to individuals
who have on record the diagnosis. The two relevant contexts of
FL learning here are mainstream education and special education.
In the former case critical variables are at play such as aptitude;
models of learning or students learning strategies; individual
differences and varying contexts and contents of learning;
motivation and anxiety. Generally research interests have focused
mainly on the good learner profile, ethnology and ethnomethodology and personal accounts of successful FL learning.

27

With regard to foreign language disabilities, US college


requirements of a foreign language are enforced, except where
a student presented with identified, diagnosed FL learning
disability. Students would then be eligible for FL waiver or course
substitution, and while 14% of all institutions of higher education
require FL training upon college entry, close to half of all colleges
required it for graduation. Against this backdrop of curriculum
prerequisite, Austin et al (1988) cited in Ganshow and Sparks
(2001), report that in the late 1980s, an estimated 1% of the
college population had self-identified as having specific learning
disabilities, and the number was thought to be rising. The
outcome of this finding was the establishment of close
collaboration between foreign language educators and special
educators, the use of a considerable array of innovative teaching
strategies for FL learning disabilities, and the launch (in 1989) of
the linguistic coding differences hypothesis (LCDH) based on
Carroll and Pimsleurs propositions on aptitude testing.
The theoretical premise of LCDH is that the primary causal
factors in successful or unsuccessful FL learning are linguistic;
that is, students who have difficulties learning a FL are likely to
have overt or subtle difficulties in their native language. In other
words, LCDH suggests that native language skills, in the
phonological / orthographic, syntactic, and semantic codes, form
the basic foundation for FL learning, with the phonological /
orthographic components being the most problematic. Like at
the 1984 AILA World Congress, the interest in language disabilities
had become multidisciplinary and multisectoral: essentially,
through the coming together of mainstream educators and
special educators, making FL learning disabilities the centre of
interdisciplinary theorizing, empirical research and
communication, and training. The following extract summarizes
the trends in the disability from the 1990s.

28

Across the world, there was increasing access to


information about learning disabilities / dyslexia in
relation to a variety of languages. In June of 1999, the
British Dyslexia Association held the first conference
on Multilingualism and Dyslexia (including the teaching
of modern foreign languages); The first book of readings
on bilingualism / multilingualism and dyslexia appeared
(Peter and Reed, 2000); there was a proliferation of
publications about orthographic differences across
languages, including nonalphabetic languages, and their
implications for individuals with learning difficulties (..)
There was also a rise in the availability of assessment
instruments across language a growing body of
information about learning disabilities and FL study
became available through world wide web sites ..
(Ganshow and Sparks 2001).

Looking ahead, the following six research questions/issues will


continue to be useful to interested scholars in both mainstream
and special education. The main finding is indicated for each
question (Ganschow and Sparks 2001).
Q1:

Q2:

Are there native language and FL aptitude


differences between good and poor FL learners?
Students classified as learning disabled and at risk
students showed poorer performance than good FL
learners on native language measures, particularly
measures of phonological orthographically processing
and FL aptitude.
Are there native language and FL aptitude
differences in students with differing levels of
motivation and anxiety?
Highly anxious FL learners performed more poorly than
low anxious student on the above measures (i.e.
phonological and orthographic processing and FL
aptitude)

29

Q3:

Q4:

Q5:

Q6:

(i).

Are there FL proficiency differences among students


who differ in their level of native language and FL
aptitude?
Self-reported surveys indicated that both good and poor
FL learners wanted to learn a FL but that poor FL learners
had less positive attitudes about their ability to learn.
What are the best predictors of FL grades and FL
proficiency?
The best predictors of FL grades and FL proficiency were
tasks of native language phonological / orthographic skills
and the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT).
Are there native language and FL aptitude
differences in students classified as learning
disabled and at risk students not classified as
learning disabled both of whom have FL learning
problems?
Students classified as learning disabled and at risk
students performed similarly on native and FL aptitude
measures.
Do student with FL learning problems benefit from
multisensory structured language (MSL) instruction
in the FL?
Students with FL learning problems benefit from MSL
instruction.
I need to reiterate the fact that applied linguists have an
endless scope across languages: native, second and
foreign and further tongues, to move the frontiers of
empirical investigation and (practical) theory building. I
am quite familiar with the Nigerian literature; and there
are huge gaps. In order to move applied linguistics
forward in Nigeria, I could not agree more with the
directions for research suggested by Ganschow and
Sparks (2001).
Aptitude: Educational psychologists and applied
linguistics would need to update and normalize the two

30

(ii)

(iii)

main measures of FL aptitude test MLAT (1959) and PLAB (1966);


Proficiency: There is urgent need for scholars to design
(and validate) instruments to quantify current measures
of FL proficiency in order to compare students more
effectively in empirical studies;
Verbal memory (Prop mechanism) is the store house
for data bases of notions, concepts and skills for which
retrieval and use are vital for learner progress and
achievement. Empirical research that helps to
characterize the working memory of at risk learners is
needed.
Early identification: Few studies have been conducted
with at risk learners who begin FL study in their early
years. There is need to examine the best time to begin
FL study and to determine whether early instruction in an
FL will prevent or promote later difficulties. Longitudinal
studies in particular would be useful for prediction of later
FL success or failure.
Cross-linguistic variables: There is need for empirical
studies on cross linguistic variables in relation to students
with classified learning disabilities/dyslexia. There is a
need to examine differences across languages that might
facilitate or hinder learning FL for at risk learners.

especially in the arts and humanities developed technophobia. I


am not sure teachers in the non-science disciplines, even in
tertiary education, are out of the woods yet. But we may as well
accept the grim reality that IT or ICTs have become the long
predicted second revolution that will not go away now.
I shall now first examine salient current global directions in ICTs
in education including teacher education, and then share my
research-based experiences in this fascinating but crucial area
of applied linguistics.

SECOND EXAMPLE: ICTs in Foreign Language Teacher


Education
The advent of the computer into the everyday context of teaching
and learning had generated considerable anxiety, skepticism and
cynicism on the part of education practitioners, especially
classroom teachers. On the one hand, they feared that the
machines were going to cost them their jobs, then became
skeptical about the contribution that the computer could ever
make to students learning of the four basic language skills of
listening, speaking, reading and writing. Above all, teachers

The Global Directions in ICTs in Education


Information and Communication Technologies {ICTs or IT} are a
true second revolution that is determining, as it were, the fate of
nations with respect to globalization, the digital divide and the
needs and dilemmas of the developing and least developed
countries {LDCs}. Despite the overwhelming odds these
countries face, there is an overarching hope that perhaps only
education can contribute to reduce significantly the digital divide
and all its concomitant effects: social, political, economic, as
well as the real danger of becoming exiles or victims of information
and knowledge isolation. This holistic view of ITs potential is
strongly reflected in UNESCOS vision, philosophy and
programmes especially over the last decade. Significant actions
taken by the Organization in this respect include the creation in
1999 of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in
Education {IITE}with headquarters in Moscow, and the Addis
Ababa based, Africa-centred UNESCO International Institute for
Capacity Building in Africa {IICBA} providing, essentially,
opportunities for teacher education through distance learning,
educational materials development as well as women education
and empowerment. Furthermore, since 1998, specific regional
evaluation and capacity building activities have been coordinated
by UNESCO Regional Offices, of which two studies are
noteworthy. The first focused on assessing levels of awareness
and practices in several countries as reflected in their national

31

32

(iv)

(v)

and educational action plans and systems. The report (UNESCO


2002) provided invaluable insight into the universal acceptance
of ICTs as a must factor in national educational and development
planning and practices, and the need to devise very close
monitoring mechanisms at all levels for cost efficiency. The
second more substantial study is highlighted in the project titled
Using ICTs to upgrade the Quality and Reach of Education in
Asian and the Pacific {2003} which aimed to breakdown barriers
and build bridges.

The following excerpts summarize the strategy and series of


derivable lessons for education systems around the world:

The programmes focus is on how to use ICTs to reduce


disparities in both educational access and quality and
ultimately, bridge the digital divide. Its special concern for
gender uses in ICT use in education will promote the EFA
[Education For All Dakar 2000; Jomtien 1990].
Frameworks call for gender equality in education by the
years 2015...
UNESCO envisions that ICT will result in an educational
environment programme involving enriched curricular and
a cadre of teachers who are competent in facilitating
better learning through ICTs.
Furthermore, in order to achieve the vision and goal of
the Asia-pacific ICT project, four major areas of emphasis
were identified by the partners:The need for unambiguous and sustainable ICTs in
educational policies which promotes successful policy
models and strategies of ICT integration ...., places special
emphasis on removing barriers to participation and the
learning of girls and women, out - of - school youth, the
disadvantaged and those with special needs and the
poor.
Capacity - building of teachers through training and
professional development and other facilitators for

33

effective use of ICTs in improving teaching and learning.


Some of the focused actions of this project include:
developing a regional guideline on curriculum framework
and standard of ICT infusion by teacher; designing
templates of ICT-integrated e-lesson plans and evaluation
tools for teachers to assess their student learning using
ICTs; and creating an on-line network of teacher centres
to share innovative practices.
Integration of ICTs in the classroom and strengthening
ICT use in school and [ASEAN] School net through core
actions including (i) exploring and demonstrating how ICTs
can be used in schools to improve the quality of education
for all and better prepare youth for the demands of the
knowledge society, (ii) developing interactive education
software and ICT-based teaching/learning lessons and
materials for integration into the teaching of science,
mathematics and language, and (iii) exchanging
experiences and best practices generated from the use
of ICTs and School net in ASEAN countries.
Empowerment of Non-formal learning/ Education
programmes for meeting non-mainstream adult and
community needs especially improve the quality of life
and alleviate poverty among disadvantaged rural
populations through greater access to context- specific
education programmes using ICTs.

At this point one should ask one important question among


several others, that I have asked myself since the late 1980s,
which is: Is Nigeria (and by extension sub-Saharan Africa) ready
for the ICT revolution, the e-revolution and the knowledge-based
economy? As Bates (2001: 115) rightly affirms the sooner that
a nation or an education system gains experience and practice
in e-learning, the more economically competitive that nation is
likely to become. But he adds stable electricity supply and
reliable and moderately priced internet access is a necessary
condition for e-learning.

34

In two related reviews, I examined policy trends and practices in


integrating ICTs in education systems in both developed and
developing countries (Owhotu, 1999:29-39;2006). The developing
countries showed particular interest in new technologies despite
the odds they faced in terms of basic support infrastructure (for
example fixed telephone access/density, power and their ailing
economies). As at 2006 when I carried out a small scale survey
of the integration of ICT in public schools system in some subSaharan countries, the situation had not changed significantly
(Owhotu 2006:311-316).
Empirical Insight into ICTs in Foreign Language Teacher
Education (1996-2006)
Between 1996 and 2003, I carried out a longitudinal study of ICTs
(or IT) in pre-service teacher education and in selected state funded and independent secondary schools in England. The
study was of interest in several respects:
i.
I had monitored policy dialogue and curriculum
implementation plan of the relevant provision of the
British National Curriculum, first adopted in the
Education Act of 1988, when I was a British Council
Fellow at the Institute of Education, University of
London. The United Kingdom was going to experiment
her national IT policy implementation, which to my
mind should throw up valuable insight and lessons
for Nigeria.
ii.
Information and Communication technology had
become the overriding focus of national education
policy across the world and one instinctively looked
to the developed countries for insight and lessons.
iii.
The critical role of all teachers across the subject
curriculum in making the innovation work was given
special emphasis;
iv.
The learner or end user was also recognized as the
main stakeholder and the key beneficiary and potential
agent for the sustenance and impact of the IT
revolution.

35

v.

vi.

As early as 1986, Nigeria had expressed keen interest


in joining with the emerging global ICT trend and was
searching for appropriate ways and means of
actualizing her computer education policy;
In 1994, almost a decade later. when I first carried out
a French Government-sponsored study of new
technologies in the French language classroom, in
France, Nigeria was still at the 1986 starting block,
despite the initial frenzy of crash-teacher training
courses and supply of computers to the pilot schools
(in an environment with little or no matching
infrastructure, facilities and teaching resources)!

Two main questions guided the study:


How was the British National curriculum being
implemented with respect to information technology skills
development in initial teacher training and in the secondary
school modern languages curricula?
W hat lessons could one learn for the Nigerian
environment against the backdrop of Nigerias moribund
1987 computer education/literacy policy?

Procedure for data collection (1996 and 2003)


The procedure was generally the same in 1996 and 2003 with
some modification to the locations of study. Whereas in 1996
my investigation was limited to institutions in Cambridgeshire,
the 2003 phase included similar institutions in Oxford and London.
In 2003, I used a total of seven different questionnaires, as against
four in 1996. The 2003 IT skills questionnaire was expanded to
include the internet and on-line data sourcing/current search
skills; web design and e-learning. The extension was meant to
account for developments in ICT since 1996. A questionnaire
survey of the state of IT in schools was once again facilitated by
the PGCE modern foreign language students at Cambridge,
Oxford and London Universities. I also mailed some subject
specific questionnaires to randomly selected placement schools

36

to be filled in by their head of modern foreign languages, the IT


tutor and the school IT Coordinator/ Administrator respectively.
The Post-graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) cohort
completed three sets of questionnaire that required them to
provide base line information on (a) their IT skills and level of
confidence; (b) their perceptions of certain issues including the
aim of school placement and related experience, and (c) their
opinion of the National Curriculum generally and the IT provision
in particular.
Furthermore, I carried out several classroom observations of
teaching and training sessions at Oxford and Cambridge
comprising IT lecture/workshops and micro teaching sessions
during which PGCE students made IT mediated presentations.
Classroom observations were also made during study visits to
schools, one comprehensive village {community} college, an
independent {private} secondary school in Cambridge and a
technology college in Camberwell, London.
I shall now present a summary of noteworthy results of the various
questionnaire surveys only, with some indication of the trend on
the same issues as observed in 1996.
Summary of Main Results of the Study (1996 2003)
Between 1996 and 2006 the United Kingdom made very
significant progress in IT policy implementation. Information
technology was well entrenched in the school curriculum, both
as a core course and across the various school subjects,
especially its rapidly growing use in the modern foreign language
classroom. For instance, data obtained for 38 Oxford, Cambridge
and London placement schools showed that there was a total
of 2,203 personal computers for teaching and learning
languages, including 65 laptop computers, giving an average of
about 58 computer units per school.

37

More importantly, modern foreign language learners in 2003 had


significantly greater access to and use of IT for regular instruction
and independent learning, which was markedly different from
the situation in 1996.
Data for available foreign language software and facilities was
also obtained. The great majority of schools had CD ROMS,
multi-wave radio cassette recorder, video cassette recorder/
playback facility and a variety of modern language magazines. A
good number had foreign language pre-recorded cassettes while
a few had satellite TV receivers. All had e-mail facility and almost
all had internet access. Three London schools had video or
teleconferencing facility which objective is to encourage topical,
relevant, face-to-face exchanges among the members of classes
in two (or potentially more) locations (Kinginger 1999). In contrast
to the situation in 1996, the current shift has been more towards
internet-based materials and resources the use of the over-head
projector and multimedia.
Perhaps the most significant finding was in relation to the IT skill
development of trainee teachers. Seventy-six PGCE studentteachers from Oxford,Cambridge and London universities
responded to our questionnaire by the end of the (1st) Michaelmas
Term. This was to assess their perceived levels of confidence
and attainment/achievement in the four skill CLUSTERS as
follows. (Percentage scores are shown for the three universities
respectively).

A +B: Operational and word processing skills: with 87%;


78%; 85%, respectively;

C: Databases and Desk Top publishing: 61%; 31%; 67%,


respectively;

D: Spread sheet: 59%; 42%; 53%; respectively; and

E: Internet skills: 43%; 46% and 45%.


What this shows is that within only the first term, most students
had become confident (and competent) in at least clusters A, B,
and C. This result was all the more significant as only 16 out of

38

76 respondents (21. 05%) were familiar with the requisite IT skills


before enrolling on the PGCE course.
Lessons for Planning ICTs in Teacher Education in Nigeria
What, from our findings, explains the resounding success story
of ICT policy in British education? Five major factors have been
at play: a very strong political will driven by the awareness of
the potential of ICTs in national development; a very active
promotion of sustainable partnerships with a wide range of
stakeholders and democratization of the policy design
process (including teachers voices); an exemplary commitment
to efficient policy implementation, and a culture of monitoring,
assessment and reporting for possible review/adjustment/reform.
More importantly, several national frameworks and institutional
support systems were established, such as the Teacher
Training Agency (TTA), the Office for Standards in Education
(OFSTED), the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) and the
Department for Education and Employment (DFEE). Monitoring
and assessment became closely tied to funding of schools and
teacher training institutions. The setting up of the Teacher Training
Agency in 1999 provided added impetus to integrate IT within 10
subjects specialties: Art, English, History, Modern Foreign
languages, Design and Technology, Mathematics, Music, Physical
Education, Religious Education and Science, in addition to IT
which is a separate examination subject for the National
Vocational and Technical Qualification (NVTQ). Even the perennial
anxiety over funding was adequately addressed for sustainability
of the innovation.
For example, OFSTEDs (2001) report indicated as follows:

would be available from the New Opportunities


Fund {NOF} a non departmental public body to help
increase the competence of all teachers in their use of
ICT in teaching and learning. The scheme would use
training organizations, approved by NOF and qualityassured by the Teacher Training Agency . The DFEE
was given the role of formulating the ICT policy for
education and steering the implementation of most
aspects of the governments ICT strategy for schools.
This involved working with the ICT supply industry,
LEAs, the TTA and the British Educational and
Communication Technology Agencies {BECTA}.

More importantly the report acknowledged that: There is


emerging evidence of a link between high standard across the
curriculum and good ICT provision variable and is more marked
in some than others . The powerful new resources obtained
with AGFL funds have increased pupils motivation to learn .
Training programmes that lack the intended subject-specific focus
have been less effective in raising teachers confidence to use
ICT . Many teachers have bought their own computers through
Government schemes. Computers ownership has helped to
boost teachers confidence and basic ICT skills significantly.(The
emphases are mine).
With specific reference to foreign language teacher education,
the implementation of ICT policy was in terms of creating a
conducive learning and training environment. The following
abridged excerpts (Box1) amply demonstrate how modern foreign
language teachers are put through their paces at Cambridge,
London and Oxford.

The Department for Education and Employment {DFEE}


funding for the ICT infrastructure and generic training
amounted to 675 million pounds over four years and
began in April 1998... distributed to Local Education
Authorities {LEAs}via the Government Standard
Fund {SF}. In addition the Government announced that,
from April 1999, 230 million pounds of lottery fund

39

40

BOX I: Conducive Institutional Environments (Oxford)

BOX II: Conducive Institutional Environments (Cambridge)

The Department has extensive ICT facilities. The


Departments ICT Centre has two rooms for teaching
purposes and for use by individual PGCE students both
equipped with powerful multimedia PCs. Additional
computers and ICT equipment are located in the Library
Resources area. PGCE students also have access to
laser printers, colour printers, digital cameras, scanners,
video capture equipment, a video editing suite and
electronic Smart boards. All computers can be used for
word-processing. The growing library of educational
software consists of a large number of packages
appropriate for the secondary age range. All of the
computers in the Department are connected to the
Internet and can be used for e-mail. All curriculum subject
teaching rooms are equipped with Smart boards and
computer projection systems. A loan pool of equipment
consisting of laptop computers, portable data projectors
and digital cameras (still and movie) is available for
PGCE students to take into schools.
All interns are required to demonstrate competence in
the use of ICT for teaching and learning in their main
subject, as a condition for the award of QTS (Qualified
Teacher Status). These capabilities are developed
through each curriculum subject programme, supported
by ICT workshops.

During the first term, you will attend introductory, sessions


on the main applications of ICT in language teaching (e.g.
word processing, database, spreadsheet, Power-Point
and the Internet). The aim of this part of the course is to
provide you with sufficient confidence and knowledge to
support the integration of this resource in your teaching
during Terms 2 and 3.

41

42

In School, during PPI, you should find out how ICT is


planned and used within the department and across the
school as a whole. You should observe teacher(s) and
languages and from other subjects if possible, using
computers in the classroom. In consultation with your
mentor you must plan and carry out Assignment 6 (Pupil
use of ICT in Language learning). The aim is to provide
you with a first experience (whether with a full class or
small group of pupils) of assessing the effect of the
resource on the linguistic performance, learning strategies
and motivation of pupils. The extended placements in
these two terms give you the chance to focus on how
ICT can be integrated in lesson planning generally. Your
focus should be on how ICT activities can link up with
other parts of the lesson. You should also think about
how ICT lessons can fit in schemes of work extending
over a sequence of lessons. Copies of your lesson plans
involving ICT should be included in here.
You should aim to try out ICT activities in lessons with
pupils of different age and ability groups; and to support
different language learning objectives (e.g. the four
language skills. You should aim to engage in broader
professional activities. For instance, your department
might ask you to make a small presentation at one of its
staff meetings on the potential of ICT.
You will be asked to make a Power Point Presentation at
a subject studies sessions in Term 3 on some aspect of
your ICT teaching experience.

It is time once again to address the same question about Nigerias


readiness for the ICT revolution. Nigerian education has
witnessed some encouraging developments in IT related matters
since 2003. For example: (a) the Petroleum Development Trust
Fund signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft
targeting schools and especially the capacity building of teachers
and institutions, which led to the establishment of Microsoft IT
Academies(Nigeria Monthly 2006); (b)Nigeria established the
Digital Bridge Institute an International Centre for
Telecommunications and Information Studies; (c) hosted the
World Digital Africa 2006 Conference on the theme ICT for
education, development and empowerment: children and learning
for learning; (c) launched the one-laptop-per-child (OLPC)
initiative in collaboration with the Nigerian government which
resulted in the provision of one million, $100 laptops for the esecondary school project in Nigeria (The Vanguard, 2006). (d) A
national Computer in Schools Committee and a few ICT (skill
acquisition) Villages have recently been set up.

tertiary institutions to provide a semblance of IT compliance for


their students, research has shown that nothing significant is
happening in this regard. Some scholars (Busari, 2006:165-194
and Maduekwe, 2006:165-184) recently investigated the problem
in several tertiary institutions and have found discouraging results.
Busari sums up her impressions: a situation where students
receive little or no exposure to ICT during training calls for all,
both at secondary and university levels, to re-examine the current
status of IT in education, right from the primary school. Similarly,
Maduekwes study clearly showed that the provision of training
in ICT skills for pre-service teacher trainees in FSC 103 in two
universities was largely inadequate.
The implications are clear. We cannot over-emphasize the fact
that the all-comers university-wide GST computer core courses
will not on their own make students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria
computer and IT-literate. Most students have become IT literate
through their own independent action/initiative. For instance,
Awoleye and Siyanbolas ( 2006 :1708-1713) study showed that
92 percent of undergraduate students have embraced the
internet, spending on average 3 hours per week in the past
four years. It also showed that the interest has made an impact
on their academic and life while science-based students made
use of the internet more than their non-science peers. Another
related implication of this self-help trend among students is that
Teacher Training Departments have a crucial obligation to develop
the IT skills of prospective teachers. The foundation in terms of
knowledge building, thinking and good practices in IT education
is laid there at the undergraduate B.A, B.Sc. Education (Hon),
and Postgraduate diploma in Education programme levels,
echoing as strongly as practicable the conducive environments
for teaching, training and independent learning.

Internet access has only begun to have some significant impact


on university campuses for both students and academic staff
especially. The National Universities Commission has set up a
successful on-line training programme for higher education
personnel known as the Virtual Institute for Higher Education
Pedagogy (VIHEP) and also coordinates the Nigerian Virtual
Library Project for universities and other institutions of Higher
Education. Similarly, the Federal Government has established
the National Information Technology Development Agency
(NITDA); launched a geoinformatic communication satellite in
orbit, with a second IT dedicated satellite for launch soon.
In spite of the apparent progress at the macro level, the issues
of infrastructure, appropriate environments, and costs of ICT
policy implementation at the micro levels in schools and teacher
training faculties constitute the most serious challenges for the
public sector. In cases where some attempt have been made by

Developing the ICT Skills of Language Teachers


In order to ensure that the goals and objectives of IT skills
development for language teachers are achieved, the planning

43

44

lessons I have already highlighted become imperative in three


main areas. These are: attitudinal, ICT knowledge base and range
of competences. Technophobia has been identified as a
significant attitudinal challenge that teachers in the Arts and
humanities have to be helped to overcome. The confidence to
explore the new technologies and look closely at old ways of
thinking and doing things is the best way forward into the
knowledge economy and modern foreign language industry. The
knowledge component includes: understanding the ICT revolution
and development in ICTs and their role, uses or impact on foreign
teaching and learning; functional understanding of the working of
a Computer system and a user appreciation of the various
components; rational decision-making in adopting teacher-friendly
and learner-friendly language software in relation to the four basic
skills and culture; monitor and critically assess the outcomes of
various researches into ICTs in teaching and learning languages;
knowledge of functions in relation to learner skills and learning
issues (Table IV). Skills comprise the following: (1) Operational,
(2) Word-processing, (3) Databases, (4) Spreadsheets, and (5)
Internet / Multimedia. This last one is particularly an important
complex of skills and includes at least 14 sub-skills ranging from
browsing, writing and sending e-mail with attachment; chat / econversation to web authoring to website design, accessing
dedicated teaching resource to job hunting, taking online courses
or tutorials to using Internet as a virtual library. (6) Further skills
include using bibliography software such as endnote; using a
video camcorder; making audio recordings; taking skill
photographs; using the photocopier; using the overhead projector
(OHP); preparing transparencies for the OHP; creating Power
Point slides; setting up equipment to give a Power Point
presentation; preparing materials using desktop publishing (DTP)
and; scanning images and graphics for DTP.
The mastery of all these skills by teachers in training is relevant
to all language curricula, first, second and foreign.

Table 1V: Examples of Functions and Learner-related Issues

45

46

Functions
Learner Skills
Learning Issues
CALL websites
Oral practice
Differentiation
Word processing
Writing
Motivation
Text manipulation
Reading comprehension Independent learning
Spreadsheets
Communication
Immediate feedback
Databases
Grammar
Accuracy
Internet
Vocabulary acquisition
Revision
Web pages
Cultural awareness
Text level literacy
Power Point Presentations
Language authenticity
CD-ROMs
School website
e-mail links
languages clubs
Source: University
PGDE
Handbook
2002/2003
Source:
UniversityofofCambridge
Cambridge
PGCE
Handbook
2003/2004

Conclusion
I have shown in this discussion of ICT policy implementation in
England what strong political will can do; how crucial building
sustainable partnership among all stakeholders is; how quality
control and assurance could only be achieved through a culture
of objective monitoring, assessment and reporting; how funding
could be sourced and well managed; how at the institution-based
level, Oxford, Cambridge and London demonstrated that
successful implementation has been a function of an enabling /
conducive environment they have provided for language teacher
training and learning. In the wider context of education, ICT
investments in teacher education across the curriculum has the
enormous potential multiplier effects in providing a more efficient
means of delivering literacy training within a sustainable literate
environment, and support adult literacy and basic skills acquisition
in basic education etc (Wagner and Kozma 2005:5).
A THIRD EXAMPLE: Voices in School-based French
Curriculum Reform
In this third example of thinking and doing applied linguistics, I
shall present briefly my experiences of micro-system or schoolbased French curriculum reform involving syllabus design in

communicative French, French curriculum evaluation, teacher


training and organizational improvements.
In 1990, shortly after I returned from sabbatical, during which I
spent about four months as a British Council Fellow at the Institute
of Education University of London, I was invited by the Head of a
large multinational International School comprising primary and
secondary wings- to save their souls. It would be my first
hands-on experience of such a thoroughly cosmopolitan/
multicultural context of schooling; running a different curriculum,
a different value system and school culture from ours. However,
three important facts were in my favour:
(i)
My familiarity with curriculum history (comparative) and
the role of North America in modern curriculum theory
and development;.
(ii)
My recent research and professional experience at
London University on multiracial education, English as a
second language curriculum as well as modern foreign
language learning, and the emerging British National
Curriculum;
(iii)
My disciplinary tradition of knowledge-building, thinking
and doing applied linguistics determined the logic of what
to do or not to do when one got to an unfamiliar cultural
terrain, as well as the relativity of theoretical and knowledge
bases. In other words, I made no assumptions; was wary
of appearances, sought out and characterized the
observed differences; planned and experimented,
consolidated adjusted and validated outcomes.
Accordingly, I evolved a ten-phase intervention
comprising the following actions: (i) situational analysis
(ii) needs identification and analysis; (iii) administration
of learner-questionnaire, (iv) placement/diagnostic tests
of learners of French across the higher elementary and
Junior high secondary grades (v) hands-on classroom
teaching which was a crucial strategy for understanding
the multicultural context of curriculum reform; (vi)
communicative French syllabus design, and trialing by

47

the teachers; (vii) review of aspects of school culture;


(viii) review of organization to include teachers voice at
school management board.; (ix) needs-based In-service
and workshop for teachers; (x) Monitoring and
assessment of curriculum implementation.
The memorable highpoint of this experience was that all
my recommendations were accepted and implemented
by the school authorities (Owhotu,2001). From the
success of that project, other multicultural international
schools using the British National Curriculum invited me
to replicate, as it were, our work in their schools.
In 1999, about six years later, I was again invited by the same
International school to validate the programme and prepare it for
accreditation from their Home School Board. Building on the
foundation I had laid six years earlier and with classroom
observation, workshops, seminars and syllabus review, the
French programme got the accreditation with commendation.
Between then and June 2001 we had the mandate to monitor
implementation of agreed recommendations and strategies.
Other outcomes of the reform are noteworthy: the school
administration and French teachers were agreed that there had
been significant improvement in the teachers team spirit, lesson
planning skills, classroom organization and instruction as well
as teacher self-assessment, and assessment of student
learning outcomes.
These encouraging results notwithstanding, I decided, with the
kind approval of the school authorities, to probe beyond
appearances as it were, and carry out a voices survey of both
parents and learners. In that particular environment, parents and
learners were both informed and vocal stake holders in the reform
process. If they had been generally dissatisfied then I would have
laboured in vain. The voices survey was therefore to enable us
to assess whether or not in their view there were any noticeable/
significant improvements in teaching based on parents
observation concerning their children and wards attitudes

48

towards French and their achievements. Learners were


requested to address similar issues.
Relevant Findings
For the purpose of this lecture I shall highlight the trends for only
the critical items in both questionnaires.
Parents Voices
164 parents returned their questionnaire duly completed, except
for a few items that were not fully completed.
What is your opinion, in general, of the French programme?
140 parents responded, of whom 98 (70%) had a positive opinion
of the French programme ranging from excellent lot of
improvement, very good, fine, to quite organized: 28 others
(20%) were not sure, while 14 (10%) had a negative opinion
ranging from quite weak, too simple to prefer Spanish to
French.
Do you sincerely think your child has made appreciable
progress in
(a) Understanding French? and (b) Speaking French?
Out of the 154 responses, 127 (82%) agreed that their childrens
listening comprehension skill had improved; 12 (7.7%), had a
negative view, while 13 (8.4%) were not sure. With respect to
their childrens spoken French, 92 (59.7%) agreed that their
childrens spoken French had improved; 35 (22.7%) disagreed.
while 27 (17.5%) were not sure.
How would you rate the effectiveness of your childs French
teachers?
Out of 158 responses, 94 (59.49%) said it was Good, 40
(25.31%) said it was satisfactory, 13 (8%) thought it was poor
while 11 (%) were not sure.

49

If French was an elective programme, would you have


encouraged your child to study it all the same?
Out of 158 responses 136 (86.07%) said yes, 14 (8.8%) said no
while 8(5,06%) were not sure.
From this analysis of the key items, parents did seem to have
clearly positive impressions of the French programme. A total of
134 parents (84.81%) said they were satisfied with the French
teachers effectiveness, 70% were satisfied with the French
programme while another 86% said they would encourage their
children to study French. More importantly, 82% thought that their
children had made progress in listening comprehension skill, with
59% observing improved oral skill of their children. 86.07% of
them laid due emphasis on the importance of the French
language in the world today, next to English, and would encourage
their children and wards to continue to study French.
Learners Voices
The 147 learners who responded were made up of intact classes
4,5 and 6, some intact classes of 7th, 8th and 9th grades. The
questionnaire was administered with the assistance of class
teachers and teaching assistants. The relevant items and
responses were as follows:

Do you enjoy learning French?Out of 144 responses


indicated, 98 68.8%) said yes, 31 (21.5%) were not
sure, while 15 (10.1%) said no.

Would you like to speak and write French well? Out


of 146 responses, 116 (79%) said Yes, 9 (6%) said no,
while 21 (14%) were not sure

Do you want to continue your study of French


language in Junior, High or College? Out of 144
responses, 87 (60.41%) would want to; 24 (16.6%) would
not, while 33 (22.9%) were not sure.
The trend was that the majority of learners were interested,
generally enjoyed their French lessons, would want to be proficient
and continue studying French. This was a satisfactory trend, but

50

we saw the need to address the uncertainty among the 33% of


learners who were not sure. Appropriate action was taken by
the head teacher-an excellent teacher too - to reinforce learners
awareness of the strong utilitarian value of the language in the
world and for their future careers.
The need for this type of investigation exploring the voices within
and outside the language classroom has become a major focus
of interest in ethnological/multicultural studies of second and or
foreign language learning contexts. It derives from the need for
teachers to be more reflective to embrace the concept of the
classroom as their naturalistic laboratory and put greater premium
on problem solving through interpretive, qualitative action
research type investigations of teaching and learning. As Wallace
(1998:5) states action research should now be a daily planning,
observation and intervention strategy, a way of reflecting ones
teaching or teacher-training, or management of a language
department. It is done by systematically collecting data on your
everyday practice and analyzing it in order to come to some
decision about what your future practice should be. The voices
in my experience were conscious of their needs and quite critical
and articulate, and influenced further qualitative reform/
improvements in the classroom and school environment at large.

FOURTH EXAMPLE: Language Planning and French as a


Second Official Language
A major role of applied linguistics is to contribute significantly to
reform, transformation or re-engineering of micro (local,
institution- based) and macro (national, regional) language
policies and language systems. The core strategy in this regard
is language planning.
Richards and Schmidts(2003) The Dictionary of Applied
Linguistics and Language Teaching defines Language planning
as follows :
Planning often by a government or government agency
concerns choice of national or official
language(s),support for minority and community
language, way of spreading the use of one or more
languages, spelling reforms, the addition of new words
to the language and other language problems. Through
language planning, an official language policy is
established and or implemented ()in pluralistic
countries or in federal states. Language planning may
not be monolithic and several plans may co-exist.
Teachers implementation of programmes such as
bilingual education or resistance to such plans may also
have an effect on language planning at the local or micro
level.

Applied linguistics emphasises the fact that empirical research


in this field, may be both experimental and qualitative, to be led
ideally by the reflective language teacher. Bailey and Nunans
(1996) contribution to building the teachers capacity as
researcher is significant in this regard and brings together perhaps
for the first time, illustrative research on naturalistic qualitative
inquiry which is as important as experimental research in second
and foreign language education.

The National Policy on Education(3rd edition,1998) upgraded


the status of French in Nigeria from a privileged foreign language
in schools since the 1960s, to that of second official language
and a compulsory core course in primary, junior and senior
secondary schools. Public opinion was divided as should be
expected. Some welcomed the innovation as long overdue, while
others thought it was late General Abachas political masterstroke,
albeit arbitrary, to find favour with the French government and
thus get out of the global isolation of Nigeria especially after the
execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and others. However, it is interesting
to note that the latest edition of the National Policy (2004) has as
it were, down-graded French to an elective in the senior
secondary school. Did public opinion influence this development?

51

52

Stage
First

Duration
Sept.

1998

(1)

French to be made compulsory from Primary 5 to 6.

(2)

French must be taken at common


before
Common entrance
Entrance before
one is accepted into J.S.S.

(3)

A Pass in French as a criterion for acquiring J.S.S.


3 certificate.

Sept. 2001

(1)

to Oct. 2004

(2)

French to be made a compulsory core subject from


J.S.S. 1 to S.S. 3.
A pass in French as criterion for promotion from
J.S.S. 3 to S.S. 1.
Credit /Pass in French as requirement for
admission into the University.
Basic knowledge of French required for recruitment.
Basic knowledge of French required for promotion
of civil servants.

to Oct. 2000

Second

Regulations

(3)
Third

2004 to
Oct. 2008

(1)
(2)

Source: Okwudishi (2000).

I think that the reactions to, and ensuing debates over the 1998
policy may have influenced the latest revision. But it also reflects
serious policy inconsistency and discontinuity. Nonetheless, I
need to discuss briefly this otherwise important innovation in terms
of the implementation plan, including structures and strategies
that have been adopted since 1998.
The first step taken in this regard was the creation of National
time line for implementation of the 1998 policy (Table V).
Table V. Stages/Timeline of Implementation
It is perhaps common knowledge that from the timeline specified
in Table V, the micro and macro system involved are not ready
for its implementation. Again, is this a fall-out of critical public
opinion only?
What is certain is that the relevant French and Nigerian
government agencies are laying the foundation for meaningful
implementation eventually. In this regard, certain obligations were
stipulated for both the French and Nigerian governments. The
French government was expected to supply the necessary
equipment, literature, technical advice, instructional materials,
scholarships and foreign expert teachers. The Nigerian
government was expected to provide the infrastructure, support

53

staff and local French teachers. According to Okwudishi (2000),


steps taken so far in line with the requirements of the first stage
of the policy includes:

The designation of pilot schools (both primary and


secondary) in certain states, notably, F.C.T. Kebbi, Jigawa,
Oyo, Lagos, Imo and Abia.

Some colleges of education and some universities have


been specially designated and equipped for the mass
training of teachers in French.

The National Implementation Committee has conducted


a recruitment tour of the country and the list of staff to be
employed is being awaited.

The Centre for French Teaching and Documentation


(C.F.T.D). and the French Village in Badagry have been
upgraded and given the status of national institutions
charged with the training and retraining of teachers of
French.

A group of French teachers has been recruited from the


West African French-speaking countries and posted to
the pilot schools.

In Abuja, a French Language Centre has been established


and an inspector of French appointed with the
responsibility of coordination and evaluation of French
activities in the three pilot schools in the F.C.T.
In June 2004, Monsieur Gilles Carusso, Counsellor for Culture
and Cooporation, described the Nigerian French language project
as resting on two pillars: the new curriculum approved by the
National Council on Education in 2002; and the preliminary year
French programme launched in colleges of education and
universities, where it is hoped that beneficiaries would be exposed
to an intensive programme. Furthermore, the project would
involve 200 pilot institutions and a lot of emphasis is placed on
the training of teachers and school inspectors, organised by the
Centre for French teaching and documentation in Jos. 18
colleges of education, and 6 universities, including UNILAG, are
involved.

54

What are the Curricular implications of the National Policy


on French as a Second Official Language?
The first major implication is the need for policy consistency to
justify the continuity/sustenance of the 2004 pilot-project. The
post-pilot (full) programme, which would be Nigerias total
responsibility, must have willing and able partners in the national
and state political and education authorities, teachers, civil society,
parents and learners, to succeed. The second implication is that
the status of French as a Second Official Language must be
thoroughly understood by planners, teachers, and learners in
terms of expectancy levels: cognitive/linguistic, social and cultural
and curricular, in an already multicultural and multilingual country.
Third, such expectancy levels provide comparative insight into
the competence and performance of the literate and educated
Nigerian and Beninois, or Senegalese and would have to be
measured qualitatively and quantitatively using a wide range of
indicators such as communicative purposes, contexts and
functions. Fourth, models of second language usages for a given
expectancy level would have to be determined: Do we teach/
learn standard French (of France) Canadian/Quebec French?
Togolese French? Senegalese French? or, perhaps evolve our
own Nigerian French!
There is a rich source of scholarly studies of and comparative
insight into language planning and practices in many bilingual
and multilingual countries to guide our responses to these
questions :Fyle (2003:201-214), Niedrig (2003:417-449), Obanya
(2003:215-227), Spolsky and Cooper (1978), etc. In other words,
beyond a target implementation/developmental dateline of say
2020, the products of the basic education, senior secondary and
tertiary level education systems should be comparable to their
peers at the corresponding levels in Togo or Ivory coast.
Specifically, what we should be aiming to have our literate users
of French as a second official language achieve falls generally
within the 9 band hierarchy of language use scale across the
four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing:
expert, very good, good, competent, modest, marginal, extremely

55

limited, intermittent and non-user (Carroll and Hail, 1985). Only


the first four scales would be acceptable comparatively.
To get involved in the implementation of the Nigerian French
Language Project I have described, I plan to carry out an
independent evaluation of the project in the selected pilot
universities and colleges of education. Then I would have
completed the natural cycle of knowledge-building, thinking and
doing in this major area of applied linguistics.
CONCLUSION
Since the landmark World Congress of the International
Association of Applied linguistics (AILA) held in 1984, the modern
applied linguist has evolved into a multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary
knowledge-builder, thinker, planner, teacher and researcher. He
continually seeks to build reliable and practical theories, test novel
theories, related principles and strategies for solving or resolving
the myriad of human problems and challenges related to language
policy, planning, teaching and learning. He is a systems reengineer at both the macro and micro levels. He uses every
known and available tool at his disposal: philosophical,
sociological, psychological, cultural and methodological to
analyze, interpret and better understand the phenomena of
language in both its functional and dysfunctional states.
The four examples I have given of my research-based
experiences have, hopefully, provided some basis for appreciating
that it is only through knowledge-building, thinking and doing that
I have been able to understand language, French curriculum
studies language disorders, and contributed to reducing the divide
between theory and reality. I would have loved to share many
more experiences that have moulded me intellectually and
professionally: pioneering French curriculum and part time
teaching at International School UNILAG, 1981-1984; teaching
communicative French for beginners on National Television 1982-

56

1984 with an adorable caste of my ISL students; pioneering


French for Medical purposes at the College of Medicine , IdiAraba, 1983-1988,(Owhotu,1991:52-60); training and researching
on the Master of Translation(MTL) programme of the Department
of European languages 1992-2003(Owhotu,1999:70-80);
developing an ethno-linguistics perspective on borderland
equilibrium (Owhotu,1989:247-257),etc. But, today, time is of the
essence.
Finally, I hope, too, that I have been able to keep the complications
of theorizing to the barest minimum, in the overriding goal of
helping the non-specialist amongst us to understand what applied
linguistics and the sub-fields of French curriculum studies and
special educational linguistics are all about.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
My personal, academic and professional life has been influenced
by innumerable people to whom I owe tons of gratitude.
I would like to express my gratitude to all the good people I met
before, during and after my higher education who showed keen
interest in my personal and intellectual development. It is
impracticable to name them here. While the largest group of
well-wishers was convinced that I should enter the teaching
profession; a second group thought I should become a diplomat;
a third suggested broadcasting, and another thought that I should
be in social welfare/development of the challenged. Teaching was
definitely judging by my experiences of some of my teachers in
secondary school! I felt much more at ease with social
development or so I thought until I met three academics
representing tertiary institutions on the National Commission for
Social Development: Professors Olatunji Oloko renowned
sociologist, University of Lagos, B.I.C Ijeoma then the pioneer
Rector of Akure Polytechnic, and Justin Tseayo from Ahmadu
Bello University. They persisted in reminding me at every
opportunity that my true place was in the university.
I imbibed the ethics of public service under the tutelage of Mr.
Austin N. Chibututu J.P., former Federal Deputy Director of Social
Development and Administrative Secretary of the Nigerian
National Advisory Council for the Blind (NNACB).Within my first
year in service, he had put me through my paces. Even as a
clerical officer, I prepared the draft annual report of the Council,
took initiatives and carried out , in his absence, the responsibilities
of an assistant executive officer! He has remained a mentor
and friend ever since.
I shall remain eternally grateful to my wonderful Aunt, Mrs. Yejide
Sowande, for keeping faith with the solemn promise she had
made to my late mother over forty years ago to take care of her
children, especially Victor. Mama Jide is 96 and still going strong
in the Lord and in health.

57

58

My sincere gratitude also goes to my cousin Mama Jides only


daughter, Mrs Ayo Eneli and her late husband, Mr Christian Eneli
for their exceptional kindness and generosity in giving me shelter
for fifteen months before I travelled to Paris and for almost
eighteen months after my wife, son and I returned from Paris.
I am especially grateful to Olorogun Michael C.O. Ibru of the Ibru
Dynasty of Agbara-Otor, Ughelli, for his encouragement and
generosity before and during my undergraduate studies in France.
Two great friends from my student days in Paris deserve special
thanks: Mrs. Betty Dore and Mrs. Sandy McClurre. The three of
us first met at a private Christmas dinner that Betty gave for any
two English-speaking foreign student- teachers at The Sorbonne.
It was the beginning of a thirty-five year friendship. Betty passed
on last year at the age of 80. Sandy also patiently read the
voluminous first draft of this lecture and offered her usually frank
comments.
I joined the University of Lagos on the 1st of March 1979, having
been interviewed for appointment around December 1978. Among
the members of the interview panel were several distinguished
scholars to whom I would remain close, academically: Professor
Akin Osiyale, then Head of the Department of Curriculum Studies
and later Dean of Education, Professor Anthony Asiwaju and
Professor Emmanuel Kwofie. Professor Osiyale was very
receptive to my rather bold, albeit rational, requests for reform,
which brought about the introduction of several other courses in
curriculum theory at the masters level, and entrusting me with
enriching and teaching curriculum design thereafter; the
introduction of the several bands of cohort advisory
responsibilities in the faculty. He also supported my successful
quest to have education French students to write their final year
project in French.

59

Professor Anthony Asiwaju, historian and world-acclaimed


scholar in border studies continued to encourage me and
subsequently invited me to write two important inter-disciplinary
papers on curriculum development in francophone studies FOR
Nigerian universities ,and on the ethno-linguistics of borderland
equilibrium. Years later, as its founder and Director, he nominated
me as a pioneer member of the Management Board of the Centre
for African Regional Integration and Border Studies (CARIBS),
University of Lagos.
Professor Emmanuel Kwofie, one of the finest and most prolific
African scholars of French linguistics ever, has remained a
mentor and friend. I sincerely appreciate his continued
encouragement as well as the enthusiasm and conviction with
which he has written numerous reference letters on me.
Several other former senior colleagues of mine deserve special
thanks for their faith in my potentials, their support and
encouragement especially when they were the Head of the
Department of Curriculum Studies: the late Professors Dotun
Kalejaiye and Taiwo Odunusi, retired Professor (Mrs) Dorcas
Osisanya-Olumuyiwa, Professor (Mrs.) Felicia Adedoyin,
Professor(Mrs) Olu Odusina and Professor(Mrs.)Beatrice Oloko.
To those still in service I wish to emphasize the fact that they are
all, without exception, my friends and deserve special
recognition. We have worked in an atmosphere of mutual respect,
peace and harmony and have shared cherished moments of
intellectual stimulation, good humour and camaraderie. I cannot
name them all here but I shall acknowledge among them
Professors Funke Lawal, M.A Bidmos, A.O.Oguntoye, K.A
Adegoke, Duro Ajeyalemi, P.Ikulayo,T.D Baiyelo, O. Busari, Drs
Ohiri-Aniche, Uche Udeani, N.Ikonta, Anthonia Maduekwe, I. Abe,
F. Osanyin, V.Onyene, N.Osarenren ,C.Opara, O.Oladapo, F
Isichei and Y. Phillips.
I also thank members of what I call my grassroots constituency
in Block B in the Faculty of Education, comprising very promising

60

scholars who have shown an eagerness to keep learning, and


who, quite often put me on my toes with one intellectual issue or
another: Drs Adepoju, S.Jegege, G.G.Oke, S. Oyebade,
O.Popoola, R.Igwe, S.Oladipo, . Adeosun and Mr. Abimbola.
As an applied linguist, teacher and researcher, I have had my
laboratories at various locations within and outside the university,
where I taught, experimented, tested my ideas based on dominant
principles, theories and methods: the Faculty of Education, the
International School, Lagos, Nigerian Television Authority, College
of Medicine, Idi-Araba, and the Department of European
Languages. Very many people made these fresh experiences
possible and fruitful, especially my students at International School
the Awojobis, Falegans, Fajemirokuns, Baloguns, Iyandas,
Kabiawus, Olumides, Kalus and late Rita Ediale, among
innumerable others, and those at the College of Medicine. These
were, for me , a particularly challenging group because they were
scholars and teachers in their own right, had very tight work
schedules and keen to learn French for medical purposes!I
remember with mixed feelings the passing away some years
ago of three of those students: Professors Lesi, Aina and OmoDare.The majority is alive today, some still in service and others
in retirement, including: Professors Adeyemi-Doro, Ohwovoriole,
Soga Sofola, Deputy Vice-Chancellor(Academic and Research),
Dr (Mrs.)Talabi, Dr.Omenkuku, Drs(Mrs.)Ademiluyi, Campbell and
Osunde. I thank them all for enduring a nonetheless successful
experiment.
I have been fortunate enough over the years to have won several
fellowships and scholarships and I am particularly grateful to the
following individuals and institutions that have provided the
opportunities and support: The French government/Embassy of
France for the High level Scientific Research Fellowship awards
in 1994 and 1996 respectively; the British Council Lagos for the
British Council Fellowship at the Institute of Education, University
of London in 1989, and the workshop fellowship award in 1995

61

which did not materialize because I could not travel; the scheduled
Nigerian Airways carrier had been impounded for indebtedness
to the British Airport Authority!
I am very grateful to the School of Education, University of
Cambridge and Wolfson College Cambridge for electing me to a
visiting scholarship in 1996 and 2003 respectively and for providing
the conducive environments for my study; Dr. Michael Heafford
(now retired) and Dr. Michael Evans, School of Education,
Cambridge University for their generous academic support and
friendship; Dr Trevor Mutton, Department of Educational Studies,
University of Oxford for the invitation and his support during my
study visit there; Ruth Heilbrom PGCE MFL team leader, Institute
of Education, University of London for her collaboration; the
Cambridge PGCE modern foreign language student-teachers in
the 1996/97 and 2003/2004 Sessions, the Oxford PGCE modern
foreign language interns, and the London University PGCE
student-teachers in the 2003/2004 Session who all very kindly
and willingly assisted me with data collection in their placement
schools and also responded to numerous questionnaires. I
certainly could not have done much without them.
About fifteen years ago, I was first invited to serve as an education
expert with the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO
(NATCOM-UNESCO). I grew over the years, especially under
the appreciative, focused and disciplined leadership of Mrs. Joyce
Aluko, a seasoned retired university administrator and longest
serving President of the National Commission, from a local expert
to become the lead expert and chairman of the education sector
of the National Commission. As a result of her initiative and under
her guidance, I have had the singular honour and privilege to
lead the Nigerian Delegation to Commission II(Education) of the
31st (2001), 32nd (2003), and 33rd (2005) Sessions of the General
Conference of UNESCO held in Paris. I had become a diplomat!
I seize this opportunity to place on record my deep appreciation
to members of the Nigerian delegation to Commission II for their

62

contributions to the important interventions we have made in the


last six years, notably: Mrs. Amina Ibrahim, National Coordinator
Education for All and Senior Special Adviser to the President on
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Dr. (Mrs.) Nafisatu
Muhammed, Executive Secretary National Commission for
Nomadic Education; Professors Peter Okebukola, former
Executive Secretary National Universities Commission; Professor
Gidado Tahir, Executive Secretary Universal Basic Education
Commission (UBEC); Dr. Isiaku Rabiyu, former Executive
Secretary National Commission for Colleges of Education
(NCCE); Dr. Nuru Yakub, Executive Secretary National Board
for Technical Education (NBTE); the very efficient, knowledgeable
and supportive National Commission team comprising among
numerous others, Mrs M. Y. Katagum Secretary General, Mrs.
Beatrice Okpa, Sector Secretary(Education), Mrs V.N. Atuanya,
Dr.D.Olagunju,ASPnet National Coordinator, Mr.A. Fabowale and
Mrs M. Gadi.

Obasi families of Abiriba, Abia State; my numerous nieces and


nephews especially Mrs. Bridget Aiyedun-Aluma, her husband
Victor, her elder sister Mrs Jean Able-Thomas, my sister-in-law
and good friend Mrs. Erica Owhotu and my emerging generation
of lovely grandchildren.
Miss Bose Abdul has provided commendable secretarial support
oftentimes at very short notice. I thank her for her patience and
good humour even under considerable pressure.
I also thank most sincerely all members of staff of the former
Centre for Educational Technology, in particular Prince Andy
Aroloye its former Director for his kindness and trust, Messrs
John Chima, Segun Ashcroft and M.M.Onoka, the Power-Point
expert, for their technical support.
Finally, I can never thank God enough for seeing me through all
these years.

It is at this point that I would like to pay special tribute to the Vice
Chancellor, Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe for his remarkable
understanding and constant support. Since 2001 the surge in
my national and international assignments has necessitated a
considerable number of requests for permission to be away,
and he has always granted them. Might I add for information, Sir,
that these assignments have always had the type of outcomes
that you may well be proud of.
And now to my family both in Nigeria and the Gambia. First, my
love and gratitude go to my four children Nkemakolam, Uba,
Matilda, and Margaret, and ward, Ijeoma(Mrs Omunizua) for being
there for me and from whom I learned enduring lessons about
the joys and virtues of parenthood; my late father Chief J.B
Owhotu, my two sisters, Mrs. Rachel Thomas and Gertrude
Owhotu; my brothers, Godfrey and Nana; my late brothers
Charles, Oju and Jonathan, my in-laws the Uduka,Odim and

63

64

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