Under the British Council ‘English Connects’ programme, we set out to explore the English language needs of francophone West Africa, specifically in relation to gaining employment in the digital economy. Our analysis was done by partnering with EDACY, a Dakar-based training organisation for Senegalese youth entering the tech workplace. EDACY had identified that English language proficiency is holding back their learners and we were interested in learning more about how best to support them.
We ran a one-week design sprint in the EDACY offices in Dakar and produced a working prototype of an English Pillar to the EDACY programme to test with learners. We began the week by identifying that EDACY students needed to improve their confidence and communicative abilities and in the second half of the week built and tested a prototype English language course designed to support the specific professional development and employability prospects of this target audience. Our report for the British Council then looked at how our findings relate to a wider West Africa context.
Our research suggests that young people in the region would benefit from additional support around English language related to employment and the digital economy. The prototype English product that we created was valuable for the EDACY learners and we feel could be scaled for wider impact in West Africa. Being on the ground in Dakar allowed us to get a deeper understanding of the learners and their needs. The design sprint format allowed us to move quickly from problem to solution, keeping learners involved throughout the process through user interviews and prototype testing.