Letters to the Editor

No to teaching of patois

Monday, September 03, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

I am certainly flabbergasted to hear so many people lamenting the poor showing of students in the recent CSEC English language examinations. What do these people expect? If the children are not taught Standard English, how can they be expected to perform well?

I was not surprised about the English examination results, because it would appear that the emphasis these days is on teaching, reading and writing patois.

On learning of the exam results, Minister of Education Ronnie Thwaites was livid to the point of summoning experts to explain the precipitous fall in the English and maths results, when compared to the previous year.

But I cannot understand how he could expect better examination results in English when Standard English is being de-emphasised and patois is being glorified. When renowned people like Hubert Devonish PhD, Carolyn Cooper PhD and Peta-Ann Baker PhD all advocate the teaching of patois, what do you expect the students to do? They are confused and believe that focusing on English is a waste of their time.

English grammar, the structual foundation of the English language, which teaches about past tense, present tense, singular verb, plural verb, proper nouns and common nouns, etc - in short, the foundation of good essay writing and good public speaking, has been absent from the school curriculum for many years now. How then do you expect the English exam results to improve?

Minister Thwaites, if the children have not performed well, it means that they have not learnt and if they have not learnt, then the teachers have not taught.

There seems to be a lot of confusion in the mix - a number of so-called influential people are advocating the use of patois by the students while at the same time the country, including the minister of education, is expecting very good performances in the English exams. No, no, this just cannot work - these two positions are incompatible.

In summary, the grades for the English examinations will get better only when:

* Qualified English teachers - even if you have to import them - start to teach Standard English to the students.

* English grammar, the basis and foundation of the English language, is re-introduced into the curriculum.

*The nonsense about teaching, speaking and writing patois in the classroom is put aside.

All this, Minister, should go a far way in helping to solve the problem of poor English exam results.

Roy Wilson






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