Modern Languages and Cultural Studies

Ijeoma Sylvia Madueke

My name is Ijeoma Sylvia Madueke. My family and close friends call me IJ or Ijeoma. I am a mom to two little girls: Chizzytel who is 5 years old and baby Ava-Jewel who is 4 months old. In my family, we have 5 different languages: English, Swahili, Igbo, Kirundi and French but we speak more of English and French because my husband and I have only these two in common. I grew up in Nigeria always knowing what I wanted to do. Teach or Act. Well, I guess I prioritized acting as I applied and got admitted into the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. As much as I loved it, I had to withdraw a year later due to health reasons. I switched to French for my undergraduate degree. Years later, I secured a scholarship and moved to Canada to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Regina. It was during this period that I met the one who has changed my life forever, my wonderful and inspiring husband. Very pregnant with our first daughter, I started my PhD here at the University of Alberta. At a time when teaching, taking classes, working on my research and caring for my baby became almost impossible to manage and when I was struggling to understand what I got myself into, my husband who was working in another province joined me and I subsequently won a SSHRC fellowship. Having that incentive and moral support, I remained focused through thick and thin.

My language teaching journey started after graduation at the University of Nigeria where I taught French for 2 years while doing a master’s degree in French Literature. At the University of Regina, I taught French in my department and at La cité francophone before continuing here at the UofA. Well, the truth is that besides my full-time job as a mom, I have never really done any other work as long as I have done teaching or working at the university. I do not think I have loved any other job as much I love teaching. And voila a glimpse into my life.

What is your most favorite thing about teaching?

My most favorite thing is being able to encourage students and spread the love of language (French). Even though I am supposed to say only my most favorite thing, I must add that my second favorite thing is somehow, I still have fun and perform in my classes. Talk about the gestures, the movements, the modulation of the voice and the facial expressions, etc.

What's the last book you read and loved?

The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd. This book motivates me to be the best I can for my kids, encourages me to remain closer to God through prayer and to be faithful in little things.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I love travelling but to say I do not like flying is putting it mildly! I am not sure how to reconcile these two. If only I could invent my own means of transport that would cure my phobia. Anyway, I would like to visit L’ile Maurice. That’s Island of Mauritius. I prefer the name in French. Long time ago, I fell in love with this place after reading Nobel Laureate JMG Le Clézio’s  Voyage à Rodrigues and  Le Chercheur d’or. The mother nature beckons me from this island.  

What three words best describe your experience as a teacher?

Fun, dedication and success. I want my students to have the best experience learning language in a relaxed and fun atmosphere where they and I are both committed to success and positive outcomes.

What is your favorite word in French?

I don’t really have any, I love certain words for different reasons, however, I always had a predilection for prune[douce]. I love the way it sounds and I like plums! The image I associate to it is being soft but resilient. This describes me more or less, and I adopted it for my Facebook name, to say the least.