The teaching materials presented here were created based around Kanraxël, an ‘ethnofiction’ documentary about multilingualism in a village in the Casamance. The Casamance is a highly multilingual area in the south of Senegal, West Africa. Using extracts from the film, the teaching materials explore various aspects of multilingualism, including education in multilingual settings, methods for multilingual research and linguistic repertoire, among others. (LINK)They are aimed at university students of undergraduate and master level; they could of course be adapted to suit the students’ progression in their studies. The modules combine topics for discussion based around the clips, practical exercises, suggested readings and possible essay questions that encourage students to conduct their own research projects with their own data, drawing together various themes from across the modules. The modules have been designed to not require viewing the whole film, which can be acquired here, although it is of course highly recommended. The following is a general introduction to the research setting and the context in which the documentary was made. It contains background information on Agnack Grand, the village depicted in the film, and various factors, which nurture multilingualism in the Casamance within the wider Senegalese context. It is therefore recommended reading by all instructors and students. We leave the decision when to provide the students with the following information to the instructors depending on the class, the exercise chosen and the level of the students.

The materials are divided up into different themes. Although scheduling a viewing time for the whole film for students is recommended, if this is not possible, then the materials have been designed to be used exclusively with the accompanying clips from the film. The clips either exemplify a theme, for example education in a multilingual setting or provide a springboard for critical examination as in the methods class. All of the materials follow a similar layout to aid the instructor and are called Instructor’s Manual. We also provide a Student’s Manual that follows the same layout and can be handed out in class. Each session contains: a brief introduction to the topic of the class and its broad aims; learning objectives; a list of suggested readings; suggested class exercises which may be topics for discussion, guided viewing exercises or practical exercises. Suggested assignment and essay questions can be found in a separate document below, but structured as per the modules.


  • Language Policies in Multilingual Education: (sample module) explores issues surrounding education and policy in post colonial multilingual settings which is complemented with a clip from the film (registered users only)
  • Methods for Sociolinguistic (Video) Recordings: a basic introduction to fieldwork methods and the importance of video for researching multilingual situations including practical exercises (registered users only)
  • Linguistic Repertoires: students learn about the concept of repertoire and the advantage of exploring participants’ linguistic biographies for describing language use, also includes practical exercises (registered users only)
  • Language Use in Different Spheres: using clips and background information above, students will discuss official, patrimonial languages and languages of wider communication and critically consider the use of languages in different domains in multilingual settings (registered users only)
  • Context-Dependent Language Use and Language Attitudes: bringing together themes from the previous sessions, students are asked to reflect critically on their own assumptions investigating language attitudes and how these affect language use in familiar and highly multilingual settings (registered users only)


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Senegal is a multilingual country in West Africa, which gained independence from France in 1960, where French, the colonial language is still retained as the only official language of the country and is used as the main language in educational and institutional settings. There are also a number of languages which have the status of national languages, among them Wolof, Sereer, Pulaar, Mandinka, Joola, and Soninke. The Ethnologue currently lists Senegal as having 38 individual, living languages spoken by varying numbers of the population (Lewis et al. 2016). Wolof is the most widely spoken of all the languages in Senegal and is used as a language of wider communication being understood by over 90% of the population of 15.3 million people (Cissé 2005).Senegal has a stable democratic system and is a predominantly Muslim country, where over 90% of people claim to adhere to Islam. There are, however, Christians present too, particularly in the area of the Casamance, discussed in more detail below, in addition to people who follow various local religions, any of which may be practised in a syncretic way. The film Kanraxël explores the multilingualism of one village in the Casamance, Agnack Grand, through the preparation and celebration of a traditional ceremony to mark a year since the death of the late village chief.

Agnack Grand is a village in the Casamance region of Senegal, which is located between the Gambia, a former British colony, and Guinea-Bissau a former Portuguese colony. The history of the area has contributed to its historical and present-day multilingualism where not only the official colonial languages of Senegal and the surrounding area have an impact on language use, but also the numerous languages of wider communication, local lingua francas and local languages, such as Baïnounk Gujaher, the patrimonial language of Agnack Grand. The patrimonial language being the language of identity of the founders of the village (see Lüpke 2016; the following information about Agnack Grand can be supplemented by reading Lüpke 2010; 2013a; 2013b among others). The village of 7 households is very diverse, and not only linguistically, it is not purely a “Baïnounk” village there is also a Joola family from Guinea-Bissau and the descendants of immigrants from Guinea. This, of course, has an impact on the linguistic diversity of Agnack Grand, where residents report on average between 6 and 8 languages in their repertoires, which are diverse according to a person’s life history.

Over 20 named languages are reportedly spoken in Agnack Grand, from different language families, among them the patrimonial language of the village, Baïnounk Gujaher; Wolof, the most widely spoken national language of Senegal; French, the ex-colonial official language of Senegal; Joola Fogny, a Joola language used across the Lower Casamance region; Casamance Creole, a Portuguese-based creole traditionally spoken in Ziguinchor and various surrounding villages including Agnack Grand and which was once the dominant lingua franca in Ziguinchor, the regional capital; and Mandinka, one of the most important languages in the Casamance, which is associated with (conversion to) Islam. Today’s diversity and linguistic diversity is not a new phenomenon with the area having a rich and complex history which coupled with the following factors all serve to nurture multilingualism between individuals and in and among communities, all of which are exemplified throughout the film Kanraxël, and some of which will also form part of the teaching materials:

  • Exogynous marriage patterns, where women come from an outside group and marry into a community
  • Language acquisition in peer groups and age classes
  • Fostering
  • Joking relationships and patronymic equivalences beyond ethnolinguistic boundaries
  • Mobility and migration for ritual, religious, economic and educational purposes

(Lüpke & Storch 2013: 33)

Many of the women in Agnack Grand come from a village in neighbouring Guinea-Bissau and speak Baïnounk Gugëcer, a related Baïnounk language to Gujaher, which adds to the complexity of language use and continues with exogynous marriage patterns. Children are often fostered to other family members in different villages or towns and thus when interacting with their peers in groups may bring a different linguistic repertoire and languages, which other children may learn in reciprocal language acquisition. Through the teaching materials we introduce some of these concepts such as linguistic repertoire, based on Agnack Grand and the film Kanraxël. They encourage a critical engagement and exploration of multilingualism, the implications of multilingual settings for education and methods for conducting research on multilingualism.



View or download the overall introduction and context PDF to the university teaching resources.



View or download the reference list for the university teaching resources.




In this module, students will learn about language policies and education in multilingual settings. Using suggested video clip from the documentary Kanraxël as a springboard for reflections, students will discuss the impact of language policies in postcolonial countries, particularly with regards to language use in institutional context. The students will consider the advantages and disadvantages of multilingual vs. monolingual education systems.



View or Download the Instructor's manual.


View or Download the Student's manual.


Download Instructor's and Student's Manual for this Module
*Please note that downloading zip files to mobile devices might not be permitted - this depends on the manufacturer and model of your device.


Preview or download suggested video clip from KANRAXËL - The Confluence of Agnack
*Please note that due to the file size downloading to mobile devices is not permitted.


We would appreciate all feedback on any of these resources, and would encourage instructors to contact us.