ALC Launches English Immersion Programme

African Leadership College (ALC), as ALU is officially known in Mauritius, formally kicked off its inaugural English Immersion (EI) Programme with an Oath Ceremony on November 8, 2015. A bright bonfire, a sumptuous meal and an overwhelming sense of community found ALC students, staff and faculty gathered to welcome 10 new students hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal. These non-Anglophone students were about to embark on an intensive 10-week language programme; serving as a reminder of the enormous cultural diversity of Africa, as well as a representation of some of its particular educational challenges.

“Today, I’m very happy to be an ALC student because I am among some of the most excellent students from across the continent who wish to change Africa’s story, like I do,” said Loukou Amani, from the Ivory Coast. As each student introduced him or herself in English, they reflected on the journey ahead and concluded with a few last words in their native language, to the applause and laughter of their new peers.

Speaking on the rigidity of many African educational systems, Zainab Benkhedda from Morocco ventured that: “we are all here today because we want to make a change, we want to go forward, and above all, we want to save the next generation from going through what we endured.” This sentiment was echoed by Ivorian Marie-Ble Wazi who reflected on the challenges of youth in her own country in mastering French and the opportunities offered by mastery of a new language.

After the student speeches, a lavish dinner was provided by Chef Roy – who caters for ALC student housing in Mauritius. A welcome song was then performed by the ALC A Cappella group, marked the beginning of the EI students’ bold journey and another leadership milestone in ALU history.

The Programme

Beginning with the Oath Ceremony, all EI students and their peers have committed to communicating exclusively in English in their daily activities for the next 10 weeks.

The programme takes its inspiration from world leaders in language acquisition programmes, and has three principal components.

  • The first is structured, in-class teaching, focusing on grammar and vocabulary acquisition delivered by the British Council, a reputed English-language and culture-focused non-profit.
  • The second is “cultural” activities and workshops that push students to explore topics of interest through reading, writing, listening and speaking. The programme’s coordinators Laurel Staab and Aba Quagrainie are focused on bringing a wealth of experience and energy to engaging students’ interest. Their sessions include analysing the impact of hashtags like #feesmustfall during the South African educational protests of 2015 and #bringbackourgirls in combating Boko Haram kidnappers in Nigeria.

“It’s been exciting and fun to take all the best practices that we know about language learning and bring students to academic proficiency in English,” says Laurel Staab

  • Lastly, the programme design integrates EI student life into ALC activities to create a cohesive community. This happens through a variety of interactions, including #Move sports sessions, weekend activities, and FIFA video game tournaments in the common space, amongst others.

The Founders of the EI programme are pioneering an emotionally and intellectually challenging experience that aims to become one of the world’s best immersive language programmes. Describing its ambition and vision, programme co-designer and Communicating for Impact faculty Yusuf Ahmad told students at the Ceremony that “the English Immersion programme is an immensely valuable offering at ALC, allowing us to share our vision of a transformed African educational experience with Francophone and Lusophone students across the continent.” As the Founders leave their mark this year, the ALC community is excited to prepare for next year’s English Immersion intake in May 2016.

About ALU

ALU provides higher education for a higher purpose. Our students declare missions, not majors.

They develop the real-world skills to take on the world’s most pressing challenges. And they take ownership of their learning from day one through our peer and student-led approach – because ALU believes in the power and agency of young people to start shaping the future right now.

Together with a world-class faculty and staff, our students are igniting a ripple of positive impact across Africa and the world. Join us


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Phone: +250 784 650 219