Learning to Write in Post-Colonial Uganda: Reflections by a Multilingual Writer/Tutor/EAP Instructor

Esther Namubiru is an English and writing instructor and the 2019 Stearns language diversity faculty fellow at George Mason University. She enjoys learning about how to teach reading and writing while helping students develop their confidence in their own linguistic and cultural identities. Having been an international multilingual student from Uganda, and now working as a multilingual instructor, Namubiru is dedicated to the success of multilingual and international scholars.

 

As an international student from post-colonial Uganda, I came to the United States of America already knowing and using English because it is a lingua-franca in my country. It is learned and used alongside other local languages in the region. I learned English in my classes and used it at home, so it was easy for me to write and speak in this language as I moved from one schooling system to another. However, it was not until I began traveling and learning in a different educational and cultural system that I realized how little I actually understood about this language and its relationship to writing, reading, my mother-tongue, my political and cultural history, my identity as a Ugandan international student in an American college, and a multilingual instructor of English for Academic Purposes. Through moving from one academic system to another and interacting with this language in writing and reading contexts, I realized the extent of my underlying assumptions and ideologies regarding what it means to be an English-language user and writer.

1891 map illustrating both the geography and colonial ideologies prevalent during the colonial scramble for Africa.

The writing center is bound to receive international students like me – students from post-colonial societies where English functions alongside other languages but often with fraught political, cultural, educational, linguistic, and historical dynamics. These dynamics impact the way writing and reading are understood and enacted by international students. Some writing center scholarship has begun to explore these dynamics, particularly culture and its influence on language norms, to understand how they impact students’ willingness to apply methods like peer-tutoring which are commonly used in Western academic contexts (Miller, 2002). For example, Miller noted that methods like peer-tutoring were met with skepticism when they were proposed at a new writing center program in a Kenyan university. Both the faculty and students challenged the method due to their perceptions of power in the teacher-student and student-student relationship and their understanding of who was considered a qualified student-writer and could conduct a strong peer-tutoring session (Miller 2002, p. 8). However, if the writing center is to succeed in working with international students from post-colonial contexts like Kenya and Uganda, writing tutors and administrators have to first understand these international students’ unique experiences with the English language, reading, and writing. How do these students perceive reading, writing, and language in their post-colonial context? In light of the colonial history in these contexts, how is English incorporated, perceived, and used in the local education system alongside the students’ own languages? In countries like Uganda where foreign education systems are being used in private and international schools (Ssentanda, 2013), how are students and families who can access these schools adjusting to the different pedagogies related to reading and writing in English?

In this essay, I try to answer some of these questions by sharing the way I learned to read, write, and speak English as a student in post-colonial Uganda and an international student in Kenya. I describe some of the ways I was taught English grammar, essay-writing, and feedback-processing within different post-colonial local and international contexts. I also describe how language itself has played a role in my identity-formation as an international student and my ability to interact with and appreciate my fellow peers and instructors. My experiences are not representative of other foreign students’ journeys (even those with a similar background). Instead, they are meant to start a conversation about the need to appreciate the unique factors and experiences that influence international students as they learn writing and reading in American educational systems. Continue reading “Learning to Write in Post-Colonial Uganda: Reflections by a Multilingual Writer/Tutor/EAP Instructor”

CfP & Conference || CWCA/ACCR The Writing Centre Multiverse: Vancouver 2019 >> Emily Carr University of Art + Design, May 30 & 31, 2019

6th Annual CWCA/ACCR Conference

The Writing Centre Multiverse: Vancouver 2019

Emily Carr University of Art + Design

May 30 & 31, 2019

We are excited to share the CFP for our annual Canadian Writing Centres Association Conference, which will take place at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design on May 30 and 31, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Our theme this year is “The Writing Centre Multiverse,” and we welcome proposals that explore how Writing Centres navigate, respond to, and negotiate the multiverse we all inhabit – in our spaces, our practices, and our research.

Proposals are due by January 10, 2019

For more information, or to submit a proposal, please visit our website: https://cwcaaccr.com/2019-cwca-accr-conference/

“Pastel Watercolour” Created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com

CfP || CWCA/ACCR conference — The Writing Centre Multiverse: Vancouver May 30-31, 2019

The Writing Centre Multiverse: Vancouver May 30-31, 2019

For our 2019 conference, the Canadian Writing Centres Association/L’Association canadienne des centres de rédaction welcomes proposals on any writing-centre-related subject, but particularly invites proposals that explore how Writing Centres navigate, respond to, and negotiate the “multiverse” we all inhabit—in our spaces, our practices, and our research.

How, for example, do any of the following multis inform, enrich, and/or limit our work in the context of our own institutions? How do they intersect or overlap with practical, political, and/or personal concerns around training, pedagogy, administration, decolonization, or wellness? How do we as writing centre practitioners respond to, negotiate, or resist, any or all of these?

Continue reading “CfP || CWCA/ACCR conference — The Writing Centre Multiverse: Vancouver May 30-31, 2019”