My name is Magdalyne Oguti Akiding, currently a doctoral candidate in the Second Language Studies (SLS) program at MSU. I was born and raised in Kenya where I studied up to the undergraduate level. I earned a B.Ed. in English and Literature in 2015 from Pwani University in Kilifi, Kenya, which prepared me to teach in high school. A few months after completing my undergraduate studies, I left Kenya for the US and pursued a MA in Applied Linguistics at Ohio University where I also taught Swahili for two years. I joined the SLS program at MSU in Fall 2017.
The experience I gained from my master’s program, both from the courses I took and as a Swahili Teaching Assistant informed my choice of a doctoral program. I had taught both Swahili and English to diverse groups of students and I knew I wanted to conduct classroom-based research that would directly impact on L2/FL teaching and learning. However, my background in research was not as strong when I started in the SLS program and I must say that it was a struggle for the first two years. A lightbulb moment finally happened and I found my niche when I took Dr. Paula Winke’s course on individual differences in L2 learning. From that, I wrote my QRP 1 on motivation to learn African languages in the United States (in press), and the dissertation I am currently working on is about L2 motivational strategies in select African language classrooms. I am passionate about this area of research because it merges perfectly with my career path, especially as a Swahili instructor in the United States.
The teaching opportunities and GA positions I have held throughout graduate school certainly laid a foundation for my research. While at Ohio University, I taught a few intensive summer courses through programs like Startalk and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) besides my regular TA classes. Although I haven’t taught any classes at MSU, I have taught intensive summer Swahili courses at the University of Florida, Gainesville, to Boren funded scholars through the African Flagship Language Initiative (AFLI) program since 2018. Through this teaching experience, I developed interest in FL instruction and especially on the challenges facing the instruction of African languages in the United States. Luckily, I was assigned a Graduate Assistantship position with the MSU Centre for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) right from Fall 2017, where I performed a range of duties that directly tied to FL instruction. I got to work with teams of language specialists from the Big Ten Academic Alliance to develop language modules for select Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) e.g. Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew and Portuguese under the Less Commonly Taught and Indigenous Languages Partnership project that is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. I also worked on a variety of other projects with fellow GAs and the grant team, among them the LCTL DOORs project which involves developing FL instruction activities to be made Open Educational Resources (OERs) so as to benefit the instruction of LCTLs. The knowledge I have gained from these projects and opportunities will certainly be valuable in my career.
I am currently in Kenya, writing my dissertation and planning to graduate in Summer 2021. In my study, I look the motivational teaching practices of instructors of two African languages and how those impact on learners’ motivated behavior in the classroom. As I move forward, I plan to continue in this line of research which aims at the betterment of FL instruction.
For more information about my general professional experience, please visit my website at http://akidingm.msu.domains/