Strathmore University Writing Centre and Learning and Testing Services Africa organized an extremely successful two day conference that took place between 16th and 17th of April, 2015 at the university auditorium. The conference, whose theme was English for effective communication: challenges and opportunities in East Africa, attracted participants from Kenya, East and Central Africa, as well as representation from America and Europe. It was a pioneering conference on the English language and attracted various stakeholders to share their opinions, and present expert views on the learning, teaching and use of the English language.
This conference was not only necessitated by an outcry on the dismal English competence, but also by the need to discuss better teaching approaches as well as share experiences from various contexts. For this reason, stakeholders were not only drawn from university lecturers, but also high school teachers who keenly shared their experiences. Some of the reasons blamed for the current state of affairs were exam-oriented teaching and learning, the use of slang, incompetent language teachers, new media, emphasis on syllabus coverage, and a lack of role models.
The conference singled out the merits of English especially because it is widely spoken, and attendees were presented with relevant statistics from various schools and universities on the state of the language and its use. Some speakers spoke into the future of how to promote better use of language through clubs, how to teach it better through games, as well as how to encourage better English learning skills and use of proper of vocabulary. In all, each attendee had invaluable lessons they took from the sessions they chose to attend.
The next conference, which will be held in May 2016, will focus a lot more on practice and seek to bring together stakeholders from the industry, in addition to those from the education sector.
The article was prepared and presented by Junior Omondi Omollo, a second year Bachelor of commerce students, Strathmore University.