Africa in Our Lives: Adeola Agoke

(Photo by Catherine Reiland/UW-Madison)
“I have also enjoyed exciting moments of intercultural experience with the learners because teaching my language exposed me to understanding the culture of the learners, too.” – Adeola Agoke (Photo by Catherine Reiland/UW-Madison)

Though graduate student Adeola Agoke misses the warm weather and food of Nigeria, her time as a Yoruba language T.A. has shaped her understanding of American culture and her plans for the future.

Field of study: African Linguistics and Pedagogy
Hometown: Arigidi Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria

What is your favorite activity around Madison?

I enjoy visiting the capitol and state street for exciting activities over the summer.

What were your first impressions when coming to the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

I was deployed to serve as a Fulbright exchange scholar in the department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Being a first time teacher in the American university, I was very curious to know what it would look like to Yoruba foreign learners. The overall experience was a very rewarding challenge that has shaped my teaching methods.

What are the top three things you miss from home?

Oh yes, home is always home! I miss my loving community of family, friends, and colleagues. Although I love the sight of Madison snow, I greatly miss the constant warm weather in Nigeria and also some delicious Yoruba meals.

What subjects or topics do you most enjoy teaching and why?

I love teaching Yoruba especially to the foreign learners. For my Bachelor’s degree, I studied Yoruba language and literature and I have taught the language to first language speakers in south west Nigeria and also to second language speakers in the eastern part of Nigeria for a couple of years. Having taught in those capacities, I had always envisioned teaching Yoruba beyond the geographical boundaries of Nigeria. I must say that teaching Yoruba in the U.S. has been a great accomplishment.

What have you learned about yourself as a result of teaching an American audience?

Teaching the American audience has offered me a new experience with teaching foreign language learners. I have also enjoyed exciting moments of intercultural experience with the learners because teaching my language exposed me to understanding the culture of the learners, too.

Briefly tell us about your research, as it relates to Africa:

My research focuses on the sociolinguistic configuration of south western Nigeria, and how the sociolinguistic context of this region impacts pedagogical practices. Specifically, my research examines Yoruba language use in its historical frame versus the emergent Yoruba language use in the contemporary south western Nigeria. I am analyzing how the similarity and/or disparity in the use of language across these two frames impact the pedagogy of Yoruba as a first and second language.

What plans do you have after finishing your graduate studies?

I would like to work as a language professor and also coordinate language program within and outside of the United States

Where would you most like to travel and why?

I would love to travel to Europe because I want to experience the rich linguistic and cultural diversity that constitute the European continent.

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Adeola Agoke was recently named a 2015 College of Letters and Science Teaching Fellow, “Agoke honored as a 2015 Letters and Science Teaching Fellow ,” April 13, 2015.