BAAL project Books for Africa

BAAL logoBAAL has started a new initiative to send study materials to African colleagues. Due to currency differentials it is very difficult to keep up with progress in academic fields in Africa. The materials will assist research, and postgraduate and undergraduate teaching.

Multilingual education is the norm in Sub-Saharan African countries, but even primary education is rarely spoken of as ‘multilingual’, or even bilingual, because the goal of the curriculum is usually for learners to gain competence in the ex-colonial language – English, French or Portuguese – as soon as possible. Research into African languages in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be very limited. Without research into sociolinguistic contexts, local language acquisition, development of mother tongue literacy and communication skills, and education through the mother tongues, any efforts to develop multilingual education are working under a blindfold.

Universities have the essential capacity – committed researchers who are native speakers of African languages – but they lack a history of research into local language development and education, and the material resources to carry out it out. Language and linguistics books written from an English language perspective are therefore still essential, but it is our aim to promote research grounded in local contexts, and reduce this dependency.

Up-to-date books on the teaching and learning of English as an additional language are equally needed. However, the contexts for using and learning English are very different from the USA, Canada, UK and other European countries where most of the research into EAL is carried out. Research into African varieties of educated English – especially oral language, the foundation of literacy – also needs support, as do translation studies, as the bridge to language development.

We work by requesting information from colleagues in Africa – their main needs in research and teaching. The following email is an example of a response received:

Dear Guy,

I am so pleased to learn of such a brilliant initiative and most of all, appreciate the fact that the books will be state of the art books….This initiative comes in very timely and if my institution is to benefit from it, it will really be great as my department has launched a new Masters Degree in Applied Linguistics this year. This is challenging considering the urgent need for an up to date bibliography….


Dr Atanga, Lem Lilian, Acting HoD, Department of African Studies, University of Dschang, Cameroon

At the same time as inviting direct requests, we are collecting books from individuals and publishers that are relevant. We have had some wonderful donations of current publications, as well as some older books that lecturers in the UK are happy to use as course readings. We then sort these to match them as closely to the needs as possible, and post them out. BAAL has generously provided a sum to cover the postage costs for at least a year.

The ideal is a book that really hits the mark – the effect can be wonderful – but the person in Africa with limited access to the internet, no means of travel, no internationally valid credit card, and living in a country that any on-line company refuses to post to, may hardly be aware it exists. This is the conundrum.

Multilingual Matters has so far been unique amongst publishers in responding to specific requests with titles from their catalogue.

SIG logoTopics that come up frequently needing assistance are:

  • Research Methods
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Multi-modality
  • Language and Language Education – dominated by ESL
  • Language Acquisition
  • Academic Writing
  • Teacher Training
  • Study of African languages and their use
  • Translation Studies

If we can raise awareness of research into Multilingual Education – in whatever context – we may provide inspiration and a guide to research aims and methods.

Annette Islei
Secretary of Language in Africa SIG, British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)

The College of African Wildlife Management

Kokel Melubo

At Channel View Publications we have always been keen to help staff at colleges and universities around the world and one college that we have regularly supported, through the provision of gratis copies, is the College of African Wildlife Management in Tanzania. Here, Kokel Melubo, lecturer in Tourism and Head of the Department of Wildlife Tourism tells us a little bit more about the college and how our books are used.

Established in 1963, Mweka College is a leader in training professional and technical wildlife managers in Africa. To date, it has trained over 4000 students from 28 African and 8 non-African countries, the majority of whom serve in protected African areas.

Mweka College

Although the college has now been in place for 49 years, tourism as an area of study is a recent addition to the courses that the college offers. Since the introduction of this course, the college has registered over 100 students at various levels (Certificate to Bachelor Degree). The diversity of courses from Wildlife Management to Tourism would have not been possible without the confidence and support of Channel View Publications. Today, our library shelves are decorated with a range of high quality tourism textbooks. Some of the books that are a “must read’’ for our undergraduate and diploma students include Tourism Economics and Policy, Human Resources and Tourism, Cultural Heritage and Tourism and Crisis and Disaster Management for Tourism.

These books have been an indispensable aid to our tourism staff and students! On behalf of the College we thank the entire team of Channel View Publications for making us grow! You have been a great source of knowledge and actionable ideas and made us to believe that tourism is a discipline worth studying. Asante sana for your continued support!

Under African Skies

Multilingual Matters author Allyson Jule shares her experiences of visiting Cameroon to talk about her research on gender roles.

I had been to Cameroon before – about twenty years ago. I married a man whose Canadian parents raised him in Cameroon’s Northwest Province. When I first saw Africa as a young woman, it was to see the place my husband calls home. It was exotic and thrilling but ultimately remote from my own life. However, last year an opportunity arose for me to lead a travel study for ten of my university students to Cameroon. When I told my husband, he jumped at the chance to join me – and he did, along with our children.

Allyson visiting children in Cameroon

I had come across the University of Buea when researching gender roles in Africa more generally. As a feminist scholar, I was happy to discover a rich community of scholars housed at the University of Buea (UB) who were writing about gender issues in Africa. After I read a collection of articles compiled by scholars at UB, I tucked away the idea of visiting the campus one day.

The university was originally established in 1977 as a college for language translation. By 1993, UB had transformed into a fully-fledged university with the Women and Gender Studies department a part of this re-organization. Now with a student population of 14,000 students, the University of Buea is a vibrant centre of innovative scholarship in central Africa, and its Women and Gender Studies programme is a prime example of this. The department offers three degrees: a B.Sc. Double Major, a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. The courses on offer display a rich diversity of topics, ranging from feminist theory to women in agriculture and rural development.

Before setting off on the trip, I studied the university’s website and found faculty research in journals acquired through my own university library. In particular, I came across the work of UB’s Head of Women and Gender Studies and UB’s Director of Academic Affairs, Professor Joyce Endeley, as well as that of her colleague Nalova Lyonga, one of UB’s Deputy vice Chancellors. I contacted Professor Joyce Endeley telling her of my upcoming travel plans and asking if we could meet. It was arranged that I would visit the campus for two days and give two lectures – one to undergraduates and one to graduate students and faculty.

When the day arrived, my husband and children piled into a borrowed jeep and drove me from Limbe to the town of Buea. A bright well-manicured campus of big beautiful trees and flowering bushes stands out on the hill above Buea town and it is within sight of Mount Cameroon, Central Africa’s highest peak.

Much of what I shared came from my book, A Beginner’s Guide to Language and Gender, which I wrote in 2008. My ideas on gendered use of linguistic space caused the most discussion and I was thrilled to have such deep conversations with African scholars who had varying contexts of their own upon which to draw. My idea that teachers in classrooms  ‘gender’ the space by engaging more with their male students was quite-rightly challenged as context specific and reliant on cultural norms. Also, surely the variety of teaching methods would alter this pattern. Perhaps explorations could be done in African contexts concerning gender in classrooms. I was thrilled with the connection and felt like I had met new friends and that more contact would be very possible.

Academics meet up quite regularly for conferences in many countries around the world and I am no exception. I’ve enjoyed plenty of discussions on the issue of gender in the classroom with a variety of scholars around the world, but I have had never had opportunity for such discussions with African scholars.  The professors and students at the University of Buea made me feel so very welcome. I was thrilled with the two day visit. When my husband and children came to collect me at the end of the second day, Prof. Endeley and her colleagues were there to see me off – with hugs!

People listening to Allyson's lecture

Certainly, a highlight of my trip to Cameroon was meeting the students and faculty at the University of Buea. That thirty of them requested copies of my book was also deeply touching, and that Multilingual Matters have now donated these books to the university solidified a sense of relationship across the globe. Cameroon struggles with poverty and a weak infrastructure; I understand this. But spending time with Cameroonians made such realities evaporate. We are all connected and not so far apart. For me, twenty years after first visiting Cameroon, I feel a growing sense of home. What had once felt like an exotic place, too foreign to connect with, had blossomed into a real place, filled with warm, generous, and friendly people.

For additional information on the University of Buea, see For more information about Allyson and her research please see her website