Happiness Bulugu is a Kiswahili lecturer at Africana Studies and Research Center. She is interested in teaching language acquisition and cultural understanding. Her techniques include exposing students to the Swahili language and the speech communities’ customs, traditions, and norms through authentic Swahili materials and literature. Her application approach is communicative teaching across learning styles. She poses questions on language and culture that stimulate and encourage cultural understanding and exploration, which enhance life-long learning.
She develops learning and teaching materials that cover gaps identified through class observation, book reviews, and feedback from students. Happiness is also interested in assessing language competency and performance in a summative and formative manner. She has currently been involved in African language committees in the United States of America for developing Swahili standards and Swahili medical materials.
Happiness has been working with other colleges at Cornell through a jump start Swahili program to orient students heading to East Africa through internationalization programs such as Global Service, Global Health, Tanzania Summer Program and Internship program in Small Holders Agricultural Production and Rural Development in Kenya. The language skills learned have enabled students to cross-cultural barriers sensitively and share their services and expertise.
She was a recipient of a Graduate Teaching Fellowship at the University of Oregon. Happiness earned her M.A. degree from the University of Oregon in Linguistics and Language Teaching Specialization, and her B.A with Education from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She is also an active member of the African Language Teachers Association (ALTA), and the Global Association for the Promotion of Swahili (CHAUKIDU).
Languages Spoken: English and Kiswahili
Her research interests include: language pedagogy, culture, and learning styles to find optimum and authentic style teaching practices for the acquisition of African languages. The communicative style includes using authentic materials or situations while incorporating cultural aspects. She is also interested in course design, assessment, and developing teaching materials. Swahili is an agglutinative language, that is, verbs carry other parts of the sentence such as noun, tense, and idea of the action. Swahili has noun classes which are very challenging to students. Discovering communicative styles of teaching noun classes will aid students in quick precise usage of noun classes in real life environments. Precise student placement and ongoing assessment is imperative. Currently, some students are entering classes with a large variety and range of proficiency and background in Swahili. She is also focusing on finding the best techniques to evaluate oral proficiency, to develop placement tests, and to assess language performance for African language students from elementary to advanced levels