Pidgins and Creoles in Education (PACE)



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Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics and Society for Caribbean Linguistics, Summer Conference, 30 July - 3 August 2012, The Bahamas

The paper titles and abstracts that dealt with PACE are given below:


Education in French Guiana:
Evaluation of Current Bilingual Programmes

Sophie ALBY and Isabelle LÉGLISE

In this paper we will discuss a major issue in French Guiana: the way the French educational system validates or invalidates the multilingualism that characterises primary school children aged from 3 to 10 years. Cases in point are mother tongues and especially indigenous and (English and French based) Creole languages. 

A good majority of children (being French citizens or children of migrants) grow up without being in contact with French, the official language and major language of education. But despite criticism from anthropologists and linguists working in the region since the 70’s, headway toward integrating local languages and cultures into the French Guianese school context was slow because French policy eschews all languages other than standard French in the public domain (Migge & Léglise, 2010: 114). Since 20 years, however, the French education system has started to introduceexperimental projects in order to validate some of these children mother tongues (Goury & al, 2000, 2005; Alby &Léglise, 2007 among others), but till recently no real evaluation of these programmes was made.

In 2009, a research project called ANR ECOLPOM (Ecole Plurilingue Outre-Mer) was created in order to undergo a firstevaluation. One of its aims was to answer the following questions: are the languages chosen for these bilingual education projects adequate to the languages spoken by the children and are these choices representative of the pupils? How are the children that benefit from these projects chosen?

In this paper, we will present some of the results of this evaluation. Our analysis will be based a) on the political &institutional discourses about these projects, b) on the discourses of the teachers involved in these bilingual projects, and c) on the characteristics of the linguistic repertoires of the children attending the various bilingual programmes and schools concerned by the projects. Our sociolinguistic surveys concern 1315 children.

With those results and analysis in mind, we will discuss the current French and French Guianese educational linguisticpolicies. We will show the gap that exists between the languages chosen for the bilingual projects and the languagesspoken by the children. Even if education in French Guiana has undergone some changes in the last years, we will arguefinally that there is still a lot to be done if the education system wants to respect its pupils’ linguistic rights.


Reflective Writing and Affective Assessment in a Language Classroom:
The Case of Jamaican Creole at York University

Clive FORRESTER and Jacqueline PETERS
York University

In September of 2008, York University introduced two new courses in the Languages department – “Introduction to Jamaican Creole” and “Intermediate Jamaican Creole”. It marked the first time that accredited courses in Jamaican Creole were being taught at the tertiary level outside Jamaica. The courses are designed as year-long undergraduate electives and are open to any student wishing to do a selection from any of the close to twenty languages offered at York University. As part of the assessment in the introductory course, students are required to keep a journal documenting their experience of learning Jamaican in a classroom context.

This paper examines the journals produced by past students who did the introductory course in Jamaican Creole. Student journals chronicle their experience of learning what would be a foreign language for some of them, and “re-learning” a vernacular language for others. The journals reveal that students invariably move through different “phases” as they construct and reflect on their situated identities both as learners and users of the language. At the core of the discussion is the idea that reflective writing in a language classroom not only encourages students to examine their personal views as speaker-learners of a Creole language, but serves as a useful assessment tool for the language teacher which manages to capture the affective dimension of learning.


Linguistic Policy in Colombia:
Teaching English as the Dominant Language vs. Teaching of San Andresian English Creole

Javier Enrique GARCÍA LEÓN and David Leonardo GARCÍA LEÓN Universidad Nacional de Colombia

This paper seeks to analyse current Colombian linguistic policies and examine the extent to which the proclamation of bilingualism in the country can be declared. Although a clear and marked policy on English-Spanish bilingualism exists, it can be argued that it has not successfully achieved its goals. It can also be argued that it has generated negative tensions toward the unique manifestation of Spanish-English Creole bilingualism in the islands of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. This hypothesis is supported on three central pillars. Firstly, on the basis that some official documents adopt a reductionist perspective of bilingualism denying the linguistic variety of the country (Gonzalez, 2010, Maejia, 2008, Montes, 2010). Secondly, on the fact that bilingual education in Colombia is based on the imposition of a unique language: English, which undermines the advances achieved in some Spanish-English Creole educational programmes. (Morren, 2011, Moya, 2010). Thirdly, on the basis that the promotion of English as a foreign language has maintained and reinforced the notion that this European language is superior to Creole, as is opined in diverse language in contact situations (Migge, 2011). To arrive at the stated hypothesis, a critical reading of the main linguistic policies and the most common educational bilingual programs in Colombia was carried out. This critical analysis is based on theories developed in the following fields: bilingualism (Hamers y Blanc, 2000) bilingual education (Baker, 1997, Cummins, 1981), linguistic policy and planning (Siguan, 2001) and the sociolinguistic situation of Colombia (Patiño, 2000). The article ends by affirming that in Colombia it is not possible to speak about a national bilingual programme but rather of the promotion of English as a foreign language. This promotion does not consider the situation of language contact in the country, especially the contact between English Creole and Spanish. It is hoped that this paper will contribute to serious reflection and re-examination of the pertinence of some bilingual educational programmes in Colombia; as it is necessary that these programmes recognise the linguistic diversity of the Country and foment a more balanced bilingualism.


Writing as They Speak:
The Impact of Informal Structures on Student Writing within the Academic Writing Classroom

Danielle WATSON and Patrice QUAMMIE
The University of the West Indies, St Augustine

This research proposes to examine the inclusion of informal structures in student writing with the aim of improving the quality of formal writing produced at the tertiary level. It seeks to chart aspects of informality present in student writing while mapping possible - and perhaps unorthodox - means of addressing these occurrences, such as diagnostics(Morgan 2005), peer assessment (Topping 1998). It looks specifically at the more commonly-documented aspects of informality via the analysis of essays written by Caribbean students and assesses the suitability of the existing tertiary-level writing programmes geared toward addressing these areas. The research will be underpinned by the literature exploring the relationship between speech and writing (Biber 1995), the revision of the language curriculum and diversifications in the teaching of English language at university level (Richards 2001, Hammer 2001), as well as English Creole interference.


Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, Summer Conference, Accra (Ghana), August 2011

The few papers that touched on educational issues were:

EGBOKHARE, Francis O. (U of Ibadan, Nigeria): Beyond chance, sentiments and prejudice: Engaging the challenges of NIgerian Pidgin Development (Plenary) Abstract:

The fortunes of a language are inextricably tied to the fortunes of its speakers. The profile of a language may improve positively if it becomes associated with a thriving culture, religion, trade, science and technology and education, or if it is associated with a dominant political or economic power (Liberson 1982). In the face of the pervading endangerment of local languages due to the forces of globalisation, Nigerian pidgin has continued to spread and deepen its functions and relevance. In this presentation we examine issues relating to its origin, identity, spread and changing profile and situate these historically and synchronically within the dynamics of the Nigerian environment. We identify lack of a standard variety and orthography, official recognition, use as a medium of instruction, learning and teaching materials as some factors undermining the development of Nigerian Pidgin. Others include the fear that it will negatively affect the learning of English language. This has tended to generate apathy among the elite and lack of commitment in the critical linguistic community. As a way of tackling some of these problems and stirring Nigerian Pidgin in the right direction, the Naija Langwej Akedemi was established as a language development, research, capacity building and advocacy platform. We report here on its effort to harmonise and standardise the orthographic practiceses and build capacity towards the compilation of a representative dictionary and grammar. We argue that if Nigerian Pidgin must attain the respect and recognition it deserves and perform its role as a language of regional integration in West Africa, it must move from the market place, the mass media to intellectual domains. Equally important, it must be tied to the global information infrastructure and other vectors of modern socialisation.

HANENBERG, Stanley (Radboud U, Nijmegen): Language attitude and langauge use of Afro0Suramese in Suriname.

MITCHELL, Edward S. and URSULIN, Diana (Macao Polytechnic Inst and U of Puerto Rico): The roles of gender and education in questions of language choice and attitutdes in a creolephone community.

NDIMELE, Roseline (Abia State U Uturu, Nigeria): Communication porblems of NIgerian Pidgin speakers.


Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, Pittsburg, January 2011

Papers on education/applied linguistics included:

BARRETT, Terri-Ann (U of the West Indies, Mona): Why can’t we learn English? The difficulties encountered in learning Standard English in Jamaica.

DEVETTE-CHEE, Kilala (U of Canberra): A study into the use of Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea primary schools

SMALLS, Krystal (U of Pennsylvania): Flipping the Performative Script: (Re)constructing models of identity through hip hop languaging and Liberian Englishes in a US High School.

Society for Caribbean Linguistics, Barbados, August 2010

Papers on educational issues included:

DEVONISH, Hubert and Karen CARPENTER. Creole and English Bilingual Education: Good for Girls but Better for Boys?

BARRETT, Terri-Ann. The effect of Jamaican Creole on the learning of Standard English by Grade 1 Students in Jamaica

BLAKE, Renée. Race, Class and Language Ideologies in Barbados DELGADO. Education, languages in contact, and popular culture in the Francophone, Hispanophone and Dutch Caribbean

FENIGSEN, Janina and Jef VAN der AA. Restoring Voice: An Independence Day Narrative in a Barbadian Classroom

FERGUSSON, Ann. Language Patterns in the Written Compositions of Barbadian Low-Achieving Secondary School Students

HAYNES-KNIGHT, Kerri-Ann and Keisha EVANS. “Wuh Allsopp Tink She Talking ’Bout?” Bajan Dialect vs. Standard English as Mother Tongue

KEPHART, Ronald. Taking the “Broken” out of “Broken English”: Teaching against Linguistic Prejudice

LACOSTE, Véronique. Children’s Experience of Jamaican Sound Patterns in School

LEONI DE LEÓN, Jorge Antonio. Dígalo : a basic support tool for L2 learners

McPHEE, Helean. English Should be Taught as a Second Language in Bahamian Primary Schools PEREIRA, Joyce. Educational Reform and Attitude Planning in Aruba SAUL, Patricia. Writing Across the Genres: A Study of Syntactic Maturity in the Written Discourse of 11–12 year olds

STEWART, MichŹle. When 3-year old Jamaican Children Don’t Know the Word

URSULIN, Diana, Pier Angeli LE COMPTE, Santiago RUIZ, Hannia LAO and Sally DELGADO. Education, languages in contact, and popular culture in the Francophone, Hispanophone and Dutch Caribbean

Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, Cologne, Germany, August 2009:

Panel session: Bilingual Literacy and Creole Languages

Chair: Vinesh Hookoomsing

Panel Speakers: Rocky Meade, Jeff Siegel, Fred Field

Discussant: Christiane Bongart

Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, Anneheim, California, January 2007:

Special session: Educational Issues in Creole Contexts

    Chair: Fred Field


    Sheikh Umarr Kamarah: Krio in Sierra Leone Education: Ten years after the decree

    Thomas Spencer-Walters: Ruminations of “Creole” in literary discourse: possibilities and challenges for Sierra Leone Krio and Caribbean Creole

    Malcolm A. Finney: Creoles as mediums of instruction: A realistic or an idealistic notion?