By Chika Egwu
A Nigerian teacher, Mrs Oladejo has emerged winner of TOEFL English practitioners prize becoming the first African woman to bag the award
EKO HOT BLOG reports that a Nigerian teacher, Mrs Oluyemisi Oladejo has emerged as the first African to win the TOEFL English Practitioners Prize.
Mrs Oladejo, a teacher at the Itolu Community High School, Ilaro, Ogun State emerged as the winner of the coveted award after defeating other contestants across the globe.
Her unrivalled victory has earned her school, Itolu Community High School, Ilaro, access to Computer Assisted Language Learning sponsored by the Educational Testing Service system language learning for 80 Junior Secondary School (JSS 2) students.
The Educational Testing Service, ETS, founded in 1947 is the world’s largest non-profit organization whose sole aim is to promote quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research, and related services. TOEFL is one of the exams organised by the body.
Sharing her journey to victory in an interview with EKO HOT BLOG, enthused Mrs Oladejo discusses what the TOEFL Project CALL in the school entails.
Oladejo who enrolled for a professional course at Bridge Universe in 2021 said it all started when she signed up on Bridge Universe
According to her, she kept receiving newsletters from Bridge Universe after she completed her professional course until she got one that advertised the TOEFL English Practitioners Competition.
“I won this award towards the end of the year 2021. I enrolled in a professional course and subscribed to their newsletter at Bridge Universe. After completing the course. I continued receiving newsletters until I got a particular email where I discovered the TOEFL English Practitioners Competition.
“I submitted my application but I realized that my chances were very slim because no African has won the prize in the past. Some weeks after I submitted my application letter, I got an email that I was one of the few people shortlisted for an interview. I had my interview via zoom and some weeks later got a congratulatory message that I won,” she recounted.
Describing what TOEFL Project CALL is, she said, “TOEFL Project CALL is sponsored by the Educational Testing Service in the USA. This project is to facilitate Computer Assisted Language Learning. They have given me the resources; the computer and other technological devices to aid my students in learning the English language and we have been on this project since the start of the year.”
Oladejo, who earned a license to conduct the training in her school said it allows her to train 80 students to excel in the TOEFL Junior.
She said, “I teach them using the TOEFL Junior Curriculum. The ETS has given me licenses for 80 students. These licenses allow them to access the English Learning Center where we do all our activities, learning, and tasks.
“All these things are targeted at helping my students to excel in the TOEFL Junior. Before we started this project, my students were given a pre-test to assess their English speaking, reading, listening and writing skills.
“This project is expected to run for months before they take the TOEFL Junior Exam and the essence of these exercises is to prepare my students for the TOEFL Junior Exam.”
Mrs Oladejo, who acknowledged the efforts and contributions of the principal and colleagues, Educational Testing Service and Ogun State Teaching Service Commission, said that the project has positively impacted her students on the use of computer systems in learning the English language.
“My students are excited and super happy about the project, but at first, they were hesitant, scared, and sceptical because it involves the use of a computer. Prior to now many of them never had access to a computer. They felt it was something they could not do.
“As we advanced, they began to see the beauty of this project. Many of those who are not part of this project now want to join, but it is already late. I believe it has given them a sense of importance; they now feel that they have an edge over their contemporaries,” she said.
Speaking on Mrs Oladejo’s outstanding performance, the Junior Secondary School, JSS, principal, Mr Femi Lawal, commended the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led government for his tremendous support for the ongoing project.
According to him, the English learning project with the students wouldn’t have become a reality if Gov. Abiodun hasn’t made finance and electricity available to the school.
“I want to give kudos to the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led government that has been helping in the area of finances because it takes a lot to get electricity in this Nigeria, we barely get electricity supply in the school.
“This program is done every day for a minimum of 2 to 3 hours. Sometimes after school or during the break so that it doesn’t interfere with our academic work.
“The government is funding us, sometimes I do and even the teacher is also adding her money to keep this program running,” he said.
Miss Lewachi Precious, a student of JSS 2 and one of the beneficiaries of the ETS training program appraised Mrs. Oladejo to be a teacher who makes learning easy.
Miss Precious said, “I feel so excited to be a part of this project. My experience since I started this project has been so cool because the way she teaches this project makes us feel so good to even listen to her. You will feel that the project should not end.
“At the end of this project, we will have acquired the English knowledge we didn’t have, and we will learn more about using the computer because some of us didn’t know how to operate the computer. But since we started at the English Learning Center, she has taught us to use the computer and everything about it.”
Mrs Oluyemisi Oladejo is a seasoned writer and an erudite scholar born on 15th April 1986 in llaro, Ogun state.
She had her elementary education at YSLG Primary School and proceeded to Egbado College where she had her Senior School Certificate Exam in 2002.
Thereafter, she obtained her first degree in English at Tai Solarin University of Education in 2007 and in 2016 she had her Master’s Degree in English from the University of Ibadan.
Aside from the TOEFL English Practitioners Award, Mrs Oladejo has won other academic awards, which include the winner of the 2020 African Writers Prize for Creative Non-Fiction and the 2021 Ogun State Academic Laurel.
Her first novel debuted in 2012 and she has published other fiction and poems.
Having experienced firsthand the difficulty of finding exhaustive grammar textbooks as a teacher, she decided to write a comprehensive grammar textbook titled, “Premium English Grammar” a 531 paged grammar guide for teachers and learners of English.
She is also an IELTS expert and has helped many candidates ace the proficiency test.
She is currently working with the Ogun State Teaching Service Commission as an English Language and Literature teacher at Itolu Community High School.
Mrs Oluyemsi Oladejo is married to Mr Babatunde Oladejo and they are blessed with a beautiful daughter.
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