Language is a very important human feature. It is used for communication in so unique a way that no other species of creatures possesses. It is very important because it makes up the identity of the speakers and shapes their worldview. So, culture and language are intertwined; nobody can learn a language independent of the corresponding culture. This is known as cultural transmission of language. Unfortunately, many Africans do not speak or even learn their native languages. Instead, second languages such as English and French are used even more than the indigenous languages.
Since the introduction of some educational language policies, English has gained prominence in Nigeria and promoting the learning and usage of indigenous languages in the country, and this has become quite difficult. Nigeria has at least 500 languages scattered amongst 300 ethnic groups. When government regimes try to promote a set among them, the others run a risk of being sidelined. Now, a technology company based in Nigeria has developed an application for learning African languages and promoting African cultures.
App offers interactive language learning materials for students.
Izesan Limited, a technology company based in Nigeria, recently launched an e-learning platform for Nigerian languages. The app, called “Izesan! for Schools” is designed to promote language learning and cultural preservation, offering interactive language learning materials for students and powerful teaching tools for language teachers. The founder of the company, Anthony Otaigbe, shared the benefits of the app a few months after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a new national language policy.
On November 30, 2022, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a new national language policy. Summarily, Nigerian teachers have been mandated that students from primary one to six must be taught only in their mother tongue. The app was launched in response in response to the new National Language Policy, which promotes indigenous languages as the medium of instruction. This also aligns with the firm’s mission to use technology to foster the learning of Nigerian languages and culture.
Language-learning app features specialized e-resource for schools.
The app has been designed as an e-learning platform specifically designed to teach Nigerian languages and other African languages. The primary objective behind establishing this company was to provide assistance to Africans worldwide in learning and accessing their African cultures and ancestral languages. The core purpose is to enable individuals to reconnect with their cultural heritage. The company’s ultimate goal is to cater mainly to children ranging from kindergarten to senior secondary levels, with plans to expand to universities in the future.
Otaigbe said that he and his team realized that a significant number of people no longer prioritize their native languages, which has led to potential detrimental effects on African culture and its inherent values. In many households, English has become the dominant language of communication between parents and children, indicating a lack of proper incorporation of our local languages. Armed with this realization, they were prompted to create “Izesan! for School” as a means to address this issue and bridge the gap in language learning.
Achievements, progress and future enhancements of the app.
Currently, Izesan has garnered a user base of over 20,000 with an average of 1,000 actively engaged monthly learners. The app provides teachers with the ability to log in, create courses or classes, and assign assignments and classwork to their students. Also, it has a built-in feature that allows teachers to monitor students’ progress, provide grades, and offer valuable feedback on their work. For future upgrades, the firm aims to take an interdisciplinary approach to language education by challenging the perception that learning a Nigerian language is outdated and irrelevant. Beyond incorporating technology to language learning, the app is made engaging and captivating.