USIA English Language Programs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs


Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Uganda:
February 17- March 5, 1999

By Clifford A. Hill, Columbia University

About the Specialist

Professor Clifford Hill holds an endowed chair, the Arthur I. Gates Professorship of Language and Education, at Columbia University, where he also chairs the Department of International and Transcultural Studies at Teachers College. In addition, he directs the Program in African Languages at the Institute of African Studies, which is housed in the School of International and Public Affairs.

Professor Hill has been a research fellow at a number of institutions abroad, such as the Max Planck Institut f|r Psycholinguistik in the Netherlands and the Institut Nationale de Recherches Pidagogiques in France. In this country, his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and Arts, the National Institute of Education, the Fulbright-Hays Commission, and a number of private foundations. He has been invited to present research findings at major universities around the world.

This broad range of research experience is reflected in his publication record. His initial publications were on oral culture in West Africa; this concern with orality has been further explored in a range of publications that address issues of language and literacy development among African-American students within American society. His research on language, space, and time has been published in academic journals and books in this country, in Europe, in Africa, and in Asia (it has also been translated into various languages). In addition, Professor Hill has published widely on language and literacy assessment, with particular attention to the conflict between the traditional paradigm and alternative ones that are emerging.

Professor Hill has served as a consultant to language and literacy programs in many parts of the world, especially in Africa and in Asia. In recent years, he has worked with Nanjing University to develop a national center to support English language teaching in the People's Republic of China.

Visit Clifford Hill's Home Page


Areas of Specialization

Relations between reading and writing in the classroom; testing and assessment; uses of traditional oral culture in the classroom


Trip Report

During my visit, I offered the following lectures, workshops, and seminars:

(1) Keynote address at the National Conference on Language and Literature Teaching at Makerere University held in Kampala February 25-27, 1999

The theme of the conference was 'Reading and Writing Creatively,' and my presentation was entitled "To Read is To Write: From Oral to Literate Culture." A written version of the presentation will be included in the conference proceedings, which are being published under a subsidy by the USIS office in Kampala.

I attended various lectures and workshops during the three-day conference, which was attended by more than 200 Ugandan teachers of English at different educational levels. As I attended presentations, I attempted to provide bibliographical information and supportive feedback to the presenters on the various topics under discussion. The conference received strong media attention, and USIS was identified as having made a substantial contribution to its success (the conference was covered on national television and in the two major national newspapers).

(2) Seminar for faculty members of the School of Education, Makerere University, on current issues in testing and assessment

The seminar was attended by about 50 faculty members, and afterwards I discussed with various members their work in this area. I also presented to the School of Education varous materials on testing and assessment, including four copies of From Testing to Assessment: English as an International Language (1994, Longman), a book edited by myself and Kate Parry, who currently serves as a Fulbright lecturer/researcher at Makerere University.

(3) Workshop for faculty and students at the Institute of Languages, Makerere University, on using material from oral culture in the teaching of English at various educational levels (there were about 50 participants in this workshop)

(4) Workshop for faculty and students at the Islamic University of Uganda on using material from oral culture in English language teaching within an Islamic context (there were more than 100 participants in this workshop)

Workshops (3) and (4) both presented materials that were largely drawn from traditional oral cultures of Africa.

(5) Seminar offered at the USIS library on the use of the Internet, especially the World Wide Web, in teaching English at the university level

This seminar was attended by Ugandan personnel at the USIS branch and educators from various institutions in Kampala. The library has excellent computer facilities so I was able to make an online demonstration of how various websites can be linked in English language teaching. Unfortunately, the physical size of the library limited the number of participants to 30.

After the seminar, I explored with faculty members at Makerere University the possibility of developing relations with Teachers College, Columbia University, that would support the web-based teaching of English. During the 1970s, the Carnegie Foundation supported an exchange program between Makerere University and Teachers College, and one possibility is to submit a new proposal to the foundation for building a computer infrastructure at Makerere University that would support web-based teaching. We also discussed the possibility of submitting a proposal to the university exchange program sponsored by USAID.


I would like to thank the local USIS office and Makerere University for strong support during my visit. In particular, I would like to thank Virgil Bodeen, the director of the USIS office, for personal kindness and logistical support, and Professor Kate Parry, a Fulbright fellow at Makerere University, for generous hospitality and excellent technical support. Without access to the Macintosh computer in her office, I could not have adapted various handouts so that they more adequately reflected the concerns of Ugandan teachers of English (handouts for all the lectures, seminars, and workshops are available upon request). During my time in Kampala, I was also able to complete a written draft of the keynote address that will be included in the published conference proceedings.



Suggested Bibliography on Testing and Assessment

Hill, C. (1992). Testing and Assessment: An Ecological Approach. Inaugural lecture for the Arthur I. Gates Chair in Language and Education, New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Hill, C. (1995). Testing and Assessment: An Applied Linguistics Perspective. Educational Assessment, 2, 179-212.

Hill, C., & Larsen, E. (1999). Children and Reading Tests. (In the series Advances in Discourse Processes. Ed. Roy C. Freedle.) Stamford, CT: Ablex Press.

Hill, C., & Parry, K. (1988). Reading assessment: Autonomous and Pragmatic Models of Literacy ( LC Report 88-2). New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, Literacy Center.

Hill, C., & Parry, K. (1989). Autonomous and Pragmatic Models of Literacy: Reading Assessment in Adult Education. Linguistics and Education, 1: 233-83.

Hill, C., & Parry, K. (1992). The Test at the Gate: Models of Literacy in Reading Assessment. TESOL Quarterly 26: 433-461.

Hill, C., & Parry, K. (1994). From Testing to Assessment: English as an International Language. Harlow, UK: Longman.

Parry, K. (1997). Literacy Policy and Literacy Practice. Presentation at the 5th Annual Conference on Language and Literature Teaching. Kampala, Uganda: Makerere University.

A more complete listing of publications on testing and assessment can be found on my website:
This website also contains online versions of the courses that I teach at Teachers College, Columbia University (e.g., Transcultural Perspectives on Testing and Assessment).


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