ELA Jambo is the only language school in Quebec that teaches African languages, offering seven in total: Swahili, Wolof, Bambara, Lingala, Tshibula, Yemba and Kikongo.
The school opened in September 2012 and its mission is to promote African languages, with an eye on preserving the languages, said Guy-Serge Luboya, founder and director of ELA Jambo and Lingala professor.
“It’s abroad that you realize the importance of your language. When you’re abroad, you’re looking for landmarks.” —Guy-Serge Luboya, founder and director of ELA Jambo
“A language has to be spoken to be preserved,” he said.
Luboya founded the school after noting the number of Africans that don’t speak their mother tongue.
“It’s linked to a lot of different factors, like the colonization of Africa,” he explained. “The school has a mission to mend that.”
Since its opening, the school has taught about a hundred students from all backgrounds—Africans and non-Africans doing business with African countries, or who have taken an interest in the language.
“It’s abroad that you realize the importance of your language,” Luboya said. He learned to speak Lingala, one of the languages spoken in Congo, after moving to Montreal. “When you’re abroad, you’re looking for landmarks.”
To this day, he speaks four languages fluently, and is learning three others.
He’s hoping those who came to study at the school will continue to speak the language, and teach the next generation the language at home.
“Future generations will not have this worry to learn the language,” he said. “The goal is that the students won’t have to continue studying at ELA Jambo, but that they will be able to teach their children the language themselves.”