Sally Estelle Mekame-Tiogo, new doctor of the Learn Africa program

Logroño.  26 January 2023. The Gabonese student Sally Estelle Mekame-Tiogo has obtained a doctorate degree from the University of La Rioja with a thesis that provides content related to the socio-cultural realities of Gabon -her country of origin-, after finding an unsatisfactory performance in the process of teaching and learning Spanish as a result of the decolonization process.

Sally is one of the beneficiary students of our Learn Africa program, in this case in collaboration with the University of La Rioja, which has entirely funded her studies since the 2016-2017 academic year, when she pursued the Master’s Degree in Teaching in the specialty of Spanish Language and Literature, to subsequently complete her training with a Doctorate.

Developed in the Department of Hispanic and Classical Philology of the University, the thesis ‘The teaching of Spanish as a foreign language in Gabon: a methodological proposal based on the use of stories from African literature’ has been directed by professors Delia Del Pilar Gavela García and Rebeca Lázaro Niso, obtaining the qualification of outstanding ‘cum laude’.

Sally Estelle Mekame-Tiogo’s dissertation notes an unsatisfactory performance in the process of teaching and learning Spanish in Gabon, her country of origin. A secondary school teacher, the new doctor aspires to return to her country to work as a Spanish teacher.

In fact, the now doctor has emphasized this deficiency in the teaching of Spanish in Africa since she began her studies in Spain. She made this point at the debate held at the Cervantes Institute’s headquarters in 2018, on the occasion of the signing of the agreement between the Cervantes Institute and the Women for Africa Foundation. The debate highlighted the need for more and better support for the many students of Spanish in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The methodologies applied in the process of teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (SFL) are far from innovative approaches to language teaching. As a consequence of this and other socioeconomic circumstances, there is an unsatisfactory performance in the teaching and learning process of Spanish.

Sally’s thesis aims to bring contents to the teaching of SFL in Gabon more related to the socio-cultural realities of the country using African literature, particularly short oral literature.

In short, it aims to reach SFL teaching based on the principles of interculturality, giving value and recognition to the cultures involved in the teaching and learning process, in order to reach a more significant and complete result of Spanish learning. In addition, it takes into account new language teaching methodologies and digital tools to bring Gabonese students closer to a broad and updated knowledge of the Hispanic world and culture, while teaching them to value their identity during learning.

With all this, Sally Estelle Mekame-Tiogo is confident that her thesis will make a novel contribution to the didactics of Spanish in the Gabonese context, thanks to the intercultural component, the use of active methodologies, the use of ICT and the preeminent character given to African oral literature in Spanish.

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