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Making French Language possible to Learn in Kenya – French Lecturer Publishes Books

School of Humanities and Social Studies (SHSS) Faculty lecturer Dr. Bernard Nzuki Kyuma, who is passionate about the French language, is the author of French books hoped to perfect French learning for Kenyan students.

Borrowing from his Masters research on why students drop the French language in highschool, Dr. Nzuki discovered that one of the reasons for this dropout stemmed from the lack of French books for easy learning. Through this discovery, Dr. Nzuki opted to bridge the gap by developing books that would help learners understand the subject better to encourage further learning.

I started teaching French from the high school level. Unfortunately, French stationery was a dream then and as a result, I had to depend on my hitherto-hand written notes which were at times erroneous. The only books available for easy reading then were magazines e.g. Kouakou. I quickly discovered the need learners were experiencing and with time I opted to save the situation.

Dr. Nzuki started writing books in the year 2010, when he began teaching French at Strathmore University. Although he experienced challenges with publishing due to a lack of enough resources, Dr. Nzuki was determined to make his dream a reality and therefore continued writing; French primary school books – for class 1 to 8 pupils; grammar books, vocabulary books with audio CDs; reading and writing comprehension books; and short stories books. Since the start, Dr. Nzuki has published 4 books.

I have managed to publish; the grammar book, the verbs book, the reading and writing comprehension book and the short stories book. By the end of this month, I will have published the vocabulary book. Then, if all goes well, by the end of this year, I will have published class 1 to 8 books. The publisher is currently working on them.

The need to reach different learners with different needs and weaknesses, encouraged Dr. Nzuki to write on all the above fields.

The cost of the books range from Kshs. 5,500 – 10,000, per copy depending on the different levels.

For the 3 books I have already published, they are in Kenyan bookshops starting with our Strathmore University Bookshop, going at Kshs. 1,200 per copy. The 4th one, which is a short stories book, is going at Kshs. 390.

Although the books seem expensive, according to observations and conversations by buyers, Dr. Nzuki believes the books are affordable as they are readily available in a market that lacked such books to begin with. He however wishes to see the prices go down, if he manages to print more books at a go, highlighting that the current costs stem from publishing costs.

Dr. Nzuki’s provision for primary school books, came from suggestions by teachers who desired to see common French books being used across all primary schools. Furthermore, suggestions by the Cabinet Secretary of Education, put French language at the forefront of upper primary learning, a move that encouraged Dr. Nzuki’s vision.

French is not an examinable subject in primary schools unlike in secondary schools, but the irony is that a lot of French is taught in primary level than secondary level. Therefore, we do not have French books in primary schools and teachers teach any how because they don’t have well structured books for primary level.

Dr. Nzuki intends to train all French teachers, in an effort to evaluate and help them to become the best teachers for the French subject. He also advises that French is a simple language to learn, for students with positive attitudes towards the subject. Learning together as teams, exchanging different ideas using the French expressions and phrases, are key to understanding the subject better.

Students are encouraged to learn French because it is a world language that has secured its status as a top international language for the job market. Further, French speaking entrepreneurs stand a chance to undertake businesses with Francophone countries globally, noting that Africa has the majority of these countries.

When he is not teaching French, or writing on it, Dr. Nzuki runs a language centre here in Nairobi. He enjoys farming and is currently learning how to play golf and guitar.