There is growing intolerance of communicative incompetence in academia as well as within professional circles. In Kenya, communicative incompetence is often associated with improper use of language and inability of individuals to express themselves effectively in a language. English and Kiswahili are the official languages in Kenya and increasingly many people are demonstrating challenges in effectively expressing themselves confidently in either language. This is despite the fact that they are exposed to and taught both languages from a very early age.
Conversely, students or graduates who are polished in their communication add to their technical capability and are highly sought after. A survey carried out by the Strathmore University placement office (2008-2010) revealed an uneasiness of employers with students who are not sufficiently trained in soft skills, and who cannot fluently communicate in either English or Kiswahili. The dwindling language standards especially of English in the country demand that something should be done.
Although there have been numerous complaints about the falling standards of communication, there has been no substantial commitment among scholars to dig into the cause of this situation and provide a solution(s). Learning and Testing Services of East Africa (LTS) and Strathmore University have come together to host the second English Language Teaching and Communication conference in the region, themed “Exploring Communication Competency in The Industry and Academy”
The conference hopes to bring together great minds from academia and the industry to discuss the application, teaching and learning of English for purposes of communication.
The participants shall deliberate on matters such as:
- ‘Why English matters?
- Research and innovation in English
- English and Culture
- Industry perspectives on standards of English language
- Doing business in English among others.
The conference endeavours to identify the underlying causes of miscommunication and non-communication among speakers of English in Africa. It will also chart a way forward by providing realistic solutions that easily inform policy, and or define and implement appropriate strategies for the promotion and development of language in the society.
The Conference will also create a platform for the reflection and debate on issues pertaining to the English language: it will emphasize on educating and raising awareness among specialists, decision-makers, the general public and specific target groups. In addition, the conference will enable networking and creation of new partnerships with other stakeholders, institutions, and practitioners, both locally and internationally.
At the end of the conference, we hope to:
- Come up with a policy brief that shall have data driven ideas to be presented to the relevant Ministries.
- Come up with Standards of English Certification.
- Provide an avenue for publishers and other institutions to network and display their wares and ideas to the participants
- Culminate in the publication of academic papers and conference proceedings from the presented papers.