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Visiting Scholar from Africa Seeks to Improve English Instruction
A Fulbright Visiting Scholar from Africa is working on an academic project at Oklahoma City University in an effort to improve English instruction in his home country. Igor Akpovo arrived Monday to study and research at OCU for two academic years. Akpovo is an English professor in the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Civilizations at Abomey-Calavi University in his home country of Benin. The Republic of Benin is in western Africa between Togo and Nigeria. Akpovo is conducting research and participating in an assistantship with OCU’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) department as part of his Fulbright experience. “English language classes in Benin are very large, whether at the secondary school level or in universities,” Akpovo said, describing the importance of his educational mission. “The phenomenal expansion in student enrollment is not matched by a corresponding expansion in well-trained teachers. Where I teach, about eight teachers are available for about 6,000 students.” Akpovo is focusing on listening comprehension as a teaching method. “I want to show that it is possible to create an interactive, questioning, learning environment in large, impersonal listening comprehension classes. I think that listening is important for obtaining what is necessary in language development, and it is the most common communicative activity in daily life,” he said. Akpovo is also working to compare the educational process of children in Benin with children in the U.S., with particular attention to those who drop out of school or perform below expectations in language classes. “For me, being a teacher is to serve as a vehicle for stimulating and exchanging ideas in the minds of young people,” he said. “A good teacher should embrace the responsibility of being current with contemporary literature as well as developing innovative research, ideas and methods.” He formerly assisted an American Fulbright Senior Specialist from 2000-06 and results of his research and assistance were published in the book, “The Integration of Language, School and Community: Bridging the Gap between Home and School.” “With my acquired experiences in the United States, I look forward to contributing to my field of learning and to fostering future partnerships between colleagues here and in my home country of Benin,” he said. Eleanor Inglis, director of International Education at OCU, said the university here will learn from Akpovo, also. "We’re always interested in promoting international education, both on OCU’s campus and abroad. Our university is looking forward to learning more about the art of language instruction from Igor as we help him meet his educational and professional goals,” Inglis said. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright program has provided more than 240,000 participants worldwide with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The Fulbright program is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State which funds scholars worldwide. Financial support is provided by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress to the Department of State, and by participating governments and host institutions in the U.S. and abroad. For more information on becoming a Fulbright scholar, student or faculty, visit www.iie.org. See also: Visiting Scholars