The importance of French was acknowledged in the country long before independence; hence the introduction of the French language into the country’s educational curriculum since 1948 at Achimota College (Ayi-Adzimah: 2010). This long history of French in Ghana culminated in Ghana becoming an “affiliate member of francophone nations” at the 2006 Bucharest summit, though the status of affiliate member is reserved for States and governments for whom French is a language “used habitually and routinely and who share the values of the francophone world”.
It is on the strength of this background that Department of French organized this international colloquium to commemorate Ghana’s 10th anniversary as an affiliate member to the comity of francophone countries, while highlighting the progress chalked by the language in the country. The colloquium therefore settled on the topic: The contexts for learning/teaching French: realities, obstacles and prospects. It established the nexus between four major research areas: Education, Linguistics, Culture and the Didactics of languages and therefore engaged researchers in these and related fields.
Indeed, the colloquium achieved its aim of bringing together diverse categories of stakeholders and professional teachers and trainers to update and advance the current state of knowledge on the contexts of learning/teaching of French. The cross-fertilization of ideas was highly appreciated.
The Colloquium, which was from 11th to 13th of February, attracted about fifty papers from researchers who came from Universities in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In all 11 countries were represented at the colloquium: Ghana, Togo, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Egypt, Nigeria, Syria, Cameroon and France.
Each day, between 150 and 200 participants attended the working and discussion sessions after the official opening ceremony on 11 February 2016 at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon. Present at the opening ceremony were students and faculty of the French and Modern Languages Departments, foreign participants and academics who came to present papers, as well as several top officials of the university, government representatives and officials from some embassies and other institutions. Among the dignitaries were:
– The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon
– The Provost of the College of Humanities, Legon
– The Dean of the School of Languages represented by the Head of the Department of Linguistics
– The representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration
– The Heads of the Departments of French and Modern Languages
Also present as a special guest was the Director of the West Africa Regional Office for Francophonie (BRAO/OIF), Mr. T. URAYENEZ, and several diplomatic representatives from France, Switzerland and Côte d’Ivoire.
The major thrusts of the multi-disciplinary colloquium
The areas covered by the colloquium included:
· Teaching conditions in Africa and world-wide: realities and multiple perspectives;
· The place of French and the teaching of French in a bi-multilingual setting;
· Professional training of teachers
· The teaching of French in Africa: synergizing competencies and interacting towards strengthening the pedagogy of French as a Foreign Language (FLE) and French as a Second Language (FSL);
· Teaching of Languages in the digital era;
· Teaching of literature and translation today: any challenges?
· Linguistic rights and medium of instruction;
· Francophonie in Africa and world-wide;
· Francophonie in Ghana: stock-take after 10 years;
· Cultural diversity and conflict of cultures in the act of teaching;
General and Specific Achievements
- brought together language teachers and researchers in education;
- discussed and reflected on issues of teaching methodology and the contexts for learning/teaching;
- fostered interaction on various experiences in the teaching of French in a bi-multilingual settings;
- critically examined the initial, in-service and continuous training programmes for French teachers at the basic and secondary levels;
- took stock of the affiliation of Ghana to the comity of francophone nations.
Credibility and quality
The credibility of colloquium was in the quality of human resource it brought on board. The organizing committee was drawn from the DELLA research group of the French Department, while the international advisory board was made up of a several researchers from across the globe.
Plans are underway to publish the presentations as a special issue in a reputable journal. It is also hoped that joint research work will arise from the networking opportunities afforded by this colloquium. Finally, the department hopes to make this colloquium a biannual affair and attract more and more international participants widening the opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaborative research