Angela Nsen Tem

Angela Nsen Tem is currently KPAAM-CAM’s Research Assistant in language assessment methods. She has defended her PhD thesis in Sociolinguistics in January 2022 at the Department of African Languages and Linguistics, University of Yaounde I. Angela’s full CV.

Her thesis is entitled “Assessing Individual Multilingualism in Lower Fungom: an Exploratory Study of Multilingual Competences in a Rural African Environment” and was supervised by prof. Gabriel Mba.

Summary of Angela Nsen Tem’s thesis

The work entitled, “Assessing Individual Multilingualism in Lower Fungom: an Exploratory Study of Multilingual Competences in a Rural African Environment presents the degree of competences people have of the various languages of Lower Fungom (LF). That is, it seeks to find out (i) how multilingual these people are and (ii) what accounts for these high rates of multilingualism in a relatively very small area like LF. The thesis also tries to find out which of the languages attract more speakers, why and the people who are attracted by these languages. And lastly, it is also intended to see if it is possible to successfully assess unstandardized languages.

Lower Fungom is situated in the North-West Region of the Cameroonian Grassfields, precisely in Menchum Division. Data for the study were obtained with the help of four tools, which include: a sociolinguistic questionnaire whose role was to give us detailed information about the consultants’ linguistic and socio-cultural backgrounds. The Recorded Test Testing (RTT) was used to assess L2 speakers’ competences in the different languages of LF through the interpretation of recorded texts from their L2 into Pidgin English. The visual stimuli and wordlist were used to test their active competences though not all the consultants tested in the previous tool took part in the wordlist test. For the visual stimuli, a series of 12 pictures carrying themes of what usually happen in the day-to-day life of the people were presented to consultants who had to explain what they see on the pictures in those languages they claim they could speak. The wordlist contained a list of 200 words comprising nouns, verbs, adjectives and numerals. Consultants were asked to produce these words in their target languages.

Everything about this work is exploratory in nature because very little has been done in previous scholarship about the assessment of multilingual competence in languages that have not been described. Results obtained therein showed that most LF speakers had both passive and active competences in more than two languages. The Fang and Kung languages were widely understood and spoken with males taking the lead in the overall assessment. The RTT was successfully used to assess passive competences since we were aware of who our consultants were. The reasons given for these high rates of multilingualism sharply contrast with those we experience in the urban settings. The reasons for this high rate of multilingualism were for solidarity purposes, blood relations, commercial as well as interceptions in case of danger.

Keywords: Individual multilingualism, Lower Fungom, Recorded Text Testing, Competences, Assessment

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