Keynote 1:

Naijá in Education: The Last Frontier  

  • Date: June 27, Tuesday
  • Time: 11:00-12:00
  • Location: Harmonie Building, Marie Loke Zaal (1313.0034)
  • Chair: Maria Mazzoli (Groningen University)
  • Presenter: Christine Ofulue (National Open University of Nigeria)


This presentation explores contrasting perspectives on the inclusion and use of Naija (aka Nigerian pidgin creole) in language education, especially against the backdrop of Nigeria’s language policy, practice and ideology. One perspective emphasises that Naija thrives as a lingua franca without official recognition or inclusion in education, facilitating interethnic communication and fostering a pan-Nigerian identity. In contrast, the other perspective recognizes the value of Naija in education, advocating for inclusive language practices. The existence of these two viewpoints suggests the need for a paradigm shift in language education. This third perspective acknowledges the significance of non-standard, minoritised varieties like Naija, how they challenge colonial ideologies and practices, and contribute to creating inclusive educational environments that support creativity and linguistic diversity.

Short bio of the presenter:

Christine I. Ofulue is a Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics, Foreign and Nigerian Languages at the National Open University of Nigeria. Currently, she serves as the Director of the Regional Training and Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL) for the west Africa sub-region. Her research interests are in sociolinguistics and contact languages, with a focus on language use in multilingual and technologically mediated contexts. She researches Naija (aka Nigerian Pidgin) and other minoritised language varieties, exploring language ideology and identity construction as social practice. As a Fulbright Alumna of the US Fulbright Visiting Scholar Programme (2013-2014), Christine Ofulue investigated ‘Language Contact and the African Diaspora’ focusing on a comparative analysis of Nigerian Pidgin, Gullah and African American Vernacular English. She has
contributed as a co-researcher on the NaijaSynCor project, for the development of a Corpus for the Macro-syntactic study of Naija (Nigerian Pidgin). She has also consulted for language projects such as the pan-Nigerian pidgin bible translation project and the Saltwata vibes documentary on Gullah Geechee. Currently, she is involved in a joint research project with Dr. Maria Mazzoli and Prof. Joana Duarte (University of Groningen) on Multilingualism in Education. The project aims at understanding what teachers think about language use in the classroom with a focus on Nigerian pidgin.