Letters to the Editor

Use patois to teach English

Thursday, August 23, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

It never ceases to amaze me how supporters or proponents - or both - of the English language lack only ethical debating skills. Why do they seek to be contemptuous of Jamaican creole when they come to the defence of the Queen's English? Is it really necessary to descend to the level of the gutter in describing Jamaican as gibberish, unlearned, uncouth mumbo jumbo?

I am convinced that some privileged sons and daughters of Jamaica don't want the majority of Jamaicans to master the speaking and writing of English. Apparently, they believe their status in the social pecking order will decline, be diluted or diminished, if the helper is as competent in the use of English as her employer.

And in the ensuing debate, as usual, more heat is generated than light. It boggles my mind how something so patently simple - common sense really - as using the mother tongue, the vernacular Jamaican, as the launch pad - the platform to teach the "foreign" tongue, English, becomes such a controversy. Have any of the "village scholars" considerd asking the average Jamaican what is the best method to teach the mastery of English language and whether or not they consider English language a natural tongue or acquired, or learned?

Let's put aside the foolishness and confront the 600-pound gorilla in the room - most students are failing CXC English because it is being taught in schools as the natural, that is, the first language, when it is not! Let us stop kicking against the pricks and take the bull by the horns. I am personally tired of these pathetic English passes at Grade 4, GSAT, CXC and university level. It is totally unnecessary and preventable.

All that is necessary is for the Ministry of Education to create the appropriate curriculum and instruct schools to use Jamaican, Jamaican creole, patois, Jamaican dialect or whatever other word you prefer to use to describe the vernacular - our native tongue - to teach English language in order to educate the populace and put these embarrassing CXC results behind us. And that, in my opinion, is that! Argument done!

Carlos King

Old Harbour, St Catherine




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