Watson Institute at Brown University
Africa Initiative
Feyi Soetan

Spotlight on Fulbright Scholar, Feyi Soetan

Feyi Soetan is a Fulbright Fellow working with the Watson Institute’s Africa Initiative. She is the Yorùbá cultural ambassador at Brown. 

Name: Feyi Soetan, Fulbright Fellow

Hometown: Abeokuta (Nigeria)

Please describe briefly what the Fulbright Program is and your work as a Fulbright Fellow so far.

The Fulbright program is one of the United States' cultural exchange programs that is aimed at fostering international relations and increasing mutual understanding between the United States and other countries. As a Fulbright fellow, I work as a Yorùbá cultural ambassador at Brown University where I teach Yorùbá language and culture while also learning about the culture of the United States myself.

In October, you facilitated a workshop session for the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning, called "Teaching Tones: Achieving Competence through Listening and Performance." Can you elaborate on the content of this workshop, and your experience facilitating it?  

At the workshop, I shared strategies that I use to teach tones in my Yorùbá class. Most people consider tonal languages difficult to learn, so in my session, I elaborated on ways to mimic the language acquisition process while actually teaching tonal languages. It was quite challenging facilitating this workshop as it was something I had never done before. It also required a lot of research and reflection on my teaching methods, a process which was ultimately really rewarding.

In what ways do you incorporate music into your teaching technique? How does it facilitate the learning process for students of Yorùbá? 

Considering the fact that Yorùbá is a tonal language, I use a lot of music in my class to by-pass the challenge of interference. When I'm about to make a point about culture, for example, I would usually introduce the theme with a song. I also use music videos to evoke the Yorùbá environment in the class.

The role of music cannot be overemphasized because it also helps to develop proper speaking skills. As a native speaker, I learnt a lot about my language and culture through songs. This is also interesting as Yorùbá songs are 'carried' by Proverbs.

What are your future plans after the fellowship, and how has your experience at Brown shaped or contributed to them?

I plan to pursue a PHd in Education Development, or Curriculum Development. I have always been interested in Education, and teaching at Brown only confirmed my passion, also helping me develop my ideas about teaching and learning. In my first year at Brown, I took a course on 'The Craft of Teaching' which really provoked me to think about ways to give back to my country, Nigeria, and contribute to the development of her Education System.

Being at Brown has also boosted my confidence in my capacity to take on opportunities—I am now motivated to think, "If I can do it at Brown, I can do it anywhere in the world.”

 --Aalia Jagwani ’24