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Kids, Creoles and Classrooms Symposium
Kids, Creoles and Classrooms: A symposium held 7-8 April at Charles Darwin University, in the Northern Territory of Australia, co-convened by Charles Darwin University, The Association for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, NT (ATESOL NT) and The University of Melbourne.
The aim was to provide targeted professional development for educators and student teachers, raising awareness of and mapping the profession to the recently developed Capability Framework for Teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D Learners.
Symposium sessions were designed to provide the professional knowledge described in the Capability Framework:
- about language (development and language as a system) and about the language(s) students speak and learn, i.e. students' home languages and language ecologies, and Standard Australian English (especially Capabilities 1 and 2);
- about the particular language demands in the curriculum for EAL/D learners and the professional knowledge and practices (in particular Capabilities 3 and 4), in planning and implementing effective teaching and learning, and creating and maintaining supportive and safe learning environments.
The Symposium program was designed to provide a combination of presentations and workshops. The workshops were scheduled in parallel sessions to allow smaller groups, and each workshop was repeated on the second day in a different time slot so participants could take part in all workshops over the course of the two days. Around 90 educators, curriculum support staff and education researchers attended the two-day event. Video recordings of the key note sessions will be made available on the ATESOL NT website.
PRESENTATIONS AND WORKSHOPS
Introduction to symposium
Gillian Wigglesworth, University of Melbourne
The Capabilities Framework published last year provides a sound guide which will encourage and assist all those involved in teaching to develop their professional skills so that they are able to provide a more tailored approach to the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who come to school speaking a language other than standard Australian English.
Often this is a creole, Aboriginal English or a new mixed language. Some of the children coming into the school system may also speak some amount of the traditional language of their land. As a result the language that children come to school with can vary enormously from one place to another. This workshop is designed to offer you some insights into the best ways to teach these children, particularly, in this case, those in remote communities across Australia.
Robyn Ober, Trish Chisholm, Kym Davidson, Glenys Collard, Pansy Rose & Annette Patrick
The invited speakers talked about their journeys as Indigenous learners, educators and researchers.
Workshop: Ba Lenlenbat Namba. Learning about Number. Ngurru-marrbuydhina-yinyung a-Namba (Kriol-English-Wubuy). Numbulwar's experience with using first language in implementing Talking Namba
John Bradbury, Melanie Wilkinson, Hilda Ngalmi, Josephine Numamurdirdi, Faye Manggurra & Joanne Pickering, NT Department of Education
Workshop: Teaching with a language perspective
Denise Angelo and Courtney Farley, Education Queensland
In this workshop participants experienced the process of planning and teaching a unit of work that addresses students' language learning needs in addition to – and to enable – their curriculum learning.
Continuities and Discontinuities Affecting Aboriginal Learners
Ian Malcolm, Edith Cowan University
It has often been observed that the English used by Aboriginal speakers, and the way in which they use it, show continuity with traditional Aboriginal culture. This presentation pursued this matter by illustrating, with respect to a number of features at the grammatical, lexical, conceptual and pragmatic levels, how the English which has been maintained by Aboriginal speech communities embodies linguistic, social and conceptual features which are part of the cultural memory of Aboriginal people even where they now live their lives in urban contexts.
Continuities are seen, in this presentation, as inheritances which help to form our primary discourse and our identity. In some cases, the continuities represented in Aboriginal English link their speakers to their more remote past and in other cases to the period of contact, where pidgins and creoles emerged from diverse linguistic encounters.
Education, necessarily, involves a degree of discontinuity, in that it always involves the learner in going beyond familiar experience. An important question for educators of Aboriginal students is how to introduce, as an effective secondary discourse, the standard Australian English, which the students will need for their future, without threatening the primary discourse, which carries their identity.
A number of suggestions were given for further exploration in a later workshop.
Workshop: Continuities, Discontinuities and Interdependence in Learning
Patricia Königsberg, Glenys Collard & Kathi Dixon, Western Australia
This workshop followed on and picked up from the lecture presented by Ian Malcolm, entitled “Continuities and Discontinuities Affecting Aboriginal Learners”.
As shown in the lecture, Aboriginal English, despite regional and stylistic variations, is one dialect which has much in common with Aboriginal languages and creoles in that it “embodies the collective consciousness of Aboriginal society.” This is in stark contrast with the collective consciousness of Western cultural perspectives permeated throughout the Australian Curriculum. This poses dilemmas for educators. Do we ignore these differences in consciousness and hope that learners will just ‘pick up’ and learn the differences or do we accommodate them? If we accommodate, how do we do this? Can we move from a system favouring independence to one which favours interdependence in the community of learning?
This workshop built on the examples provided in the lecture and used the Tracks to Two-Way Learning materials to explore:
• How to Learn from Prior Knowledge
• How to build on prior knowledge
• How to deal with discontinuities
• How to bridge to standard Australian English
Workshop: Making the Jump with Aboriginal English in Darwin Schools
Gayle Raymond and Rebecca Green, NT Department of Education
Workshop Presentation: Mathematics and spatial language in multilingual classrooms
Cris Edmonds-Wathen, Charles Darwin University
Growing up Talking: a window to child language development
Samantha Disbray, Charles Darwin University, & Evonne Thompson, Canteen Creek
Children everywhere develop language in similar ways and at a similar rate. Through interaction in their social setting they acquire the sub-systems of the language(s) spoken around them with apparent ease, and this language development continues through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. This is true for children whose first language(s) is (are) or includes a creole or Aboriginal English variety. Teachers of such students rarely get a glimpse into this developmental process. This talk drew on longitudinal data collected through the Aboriginal Child Language Acquisition project (ACLA http://languages-linguistics.unimelb.edu.au/past-projects/acla1#aclaoneoverview ), to give teachers of Indigenous students an insight into this developmental process and a deeper understanding of the language repertoires of their students and the language learning needs of these students in school.
How communication practices affect learning in early years Aboriginal schooling
Rod Gardner, Griffith University
In recent research the speaker has been working at a primary school in a Central Queensland Aboriginal community. The focus of this research has been on the early years schooling (Prep to year 3) and the role of language in the success (or not) of interactions between the Aboriginal children and their predominantly white, middle class, standard Australian speaking teachers.
In this presentation, there was some discussion of the language variety of the community, but the main focus was on classroom interactions between the white, middle class, standard Australian teachers and the contact variety- speaking children. The questions asked were about learning the curriculum, and how the content of the curriculum is taken up by the children: how is knowledge transmitted between teacher and children. This presentation focused on three classroom practices. First, if a child has a question or needs some information, she or he first needs to have the teacher's attention, and ways were shown in which children attempt to secure teachers' attention. Second, teachers pass on their knowledge to children not through telling them, but through questioning. Third, it was shown how a math assessment failed to pick up knowledge that children demonstrably have.
Teaching in linguistically complex and dynamic classrooms
Denise Angelo & Courtney Farley, Education Queensland
In linguistically complex and dynamic classrooms educators need specific language teaching skill sets. On-the-ground work with classroom teachers has shown that a useful teacher toolkit includes how to
- learn about local language ecologies and celebrate multilingualism
- monitor and assess second language acquisition
- analyse and explicitly teach the language demands of the curriculum content
- foster language learners' access and participation in classroom learning
These understandings and practices enable educators to teach "with a language perspective" and to support their students' (incipient) multilingualism.
Joint conference of the Society for Caribbean Linguistics (SCL), the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics (SPCL) and the Associação de Crioulos de Base Lexical Portuguesa e Espanhola (ACBLPE), held in Oranjestad in Aruba from 5-8 August 2014.
Papers that dealt with Creoles in Education (click on link to abstracts below):
BARRIERE, Isabelle, Blandine JOSEPH and Prince GUETIENS:
Developing and piloting the first language sssessment tool for Haitian Creole-learning toddlers [abstract]
Reaching beyond the Scol Multilingual project: Overhauling the whole education system toward a meaningful multilingual learner-centred education [abstract]
DIJKHOFF, Marta (Keynote):
Language planning and political restructuring in Curaçao: What's new? [abstract]
GALARZA BALLESTER, Teresa and Janet RAMSEY
Teachers' attitudes towards the creole language in Antigua [abstract]
JACKSON, Samantha and Valerie YOUSSEF
Screening for language development among Trinidadian English Creole-speaking children [abstract]
The Minor and Certificate in Linguistics at The College of The Bahamas: An examination of Bahamian Creole content [abstract]
Raising awareness of de facto language education policy in Jamaican schools [abstract]
Identity personified through education: The case for raising awareness of Papiamento [abstract]
Panel presentation on Applied Linguistics and the language of instruction in Dutch Caribbean schools:
Class observations and stakeholder interviews in St. Eustatius [abstract]
Language attitudes and language use in St. Eustatius [abstract]
Applied Linguistics in St. Eustatius and the rest of the Dutch Caribbean: How can linguists contribute constructively to debates concerning the languages of instruction in Caribbean schools? [abstract]
Narrative proficiency in Dutch and English among students in St. Eustatius [abstract]
Developing and Piloting the First Language
Assessment Tool for Haitian Creole-learning Toddlers
Isabelle BARRIERE, Blandine JOSEPH and Prince GUETIENS
Linguistic studies of Creole languages make many
claims with respect to their learnability, i.e. whether and to what extent
their structural characteristics facilitate their acquisition (e.g., Lefebvre,
2006 and references cited therein). Paradoxically, except for Mauritian Creole
(Adone, 1994), Creoles have not been the focus of
comprehensive acquisition studies, and Haitian Creole is no exception. This is
not only problematic for theoretical reasons. Haitian Creole (HC) is the most
widely spoken Creole, with 12 million speakers and it is the language of a fast
increasing proportion of the population in the US: it is the second Language
Other Than English in Miami (Buchanan et al., 2010) and the fourth one in New
York (American Community Survey, 2007, Table B16001). It is also among the top
10 languages other than English spoken by students aged 5 to 17 labelled as having 'Limited English Proficiency' (Migration
Policy Institute, 2010).
The aim of this study was to address the gap
experienced by educators and clinicians, who have to administer developmental
screenings to pre-schoolers, and to develop an
assessment tool adapted to HC-learning toddlers. A parental questionnaire
adapted to both the language and the culture of HC-learning toddlers was
developed, first piloted in Haiti and administered to 50 children (with no
developmental issues) between the ages of 18 and 36 months enrolled in Head
Start programs and other day cares and preschools in New York.
The assessment follows the structure of the
Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) (Fenson et
al, 2007) that has been adapted to 63 languages from different language
families and tied to distinct cultures (http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/cdi/). It
consists of three sections that tap toddlers' vocabulary, language use and
The HC questionnaire contains 602 words: parents
indicate whether their child understands and/or produces each of them. In a few
cases different words that refer to the same concept are presented to
accommodate dialectal differences among speakers, i.e. 'tanpri/silvouplŹ/souple' simply means
'please', and yet different speakers from different regional or social
background might choose to say 'tanpri' instead of 'silvouplŹ' even when they understand the meaning of all
three. A section on religious concepts not typically found in CDIs has been
added. Words such as 'Jezi Kris' meaning 'Jesus
Christ' and 'ougan/ bėkė'
referring to 'voodoo priest' were also incorporated as they reflect the
combination of Christian and Vodoo cultures of
Haitians (Michel and Bellegarde-Smith, 2006) and the
early linguistic experience of the HC-learning toddlers. The use of different
lexical items, as in 'gėm' (gum) and 'pouding' (pudding) in the section on food and beverage
borrowed from the English language were also added, to ensure we did not
underestimate the lexical development of the children living in the US.
The section on language use is similar of that of the
American English CDI (Fenson et al., 2007). It
focuses on how children use words to talk about events that either happens in
the present, past, and future. It includes 5 questions, e.g a). 'ťske pitit ou janm rakonte bagay kite rive ou pale de moun ki pa la?' (Does your child
ever talk about past events or people who are not present?) b) 'ťske pitit ou janm rakonte bagay ki pwale rive?' (Does your child ever talk about something that’s going to happen in the
The grammatical section of the CDI incorporates the
complex Tense, Aspect and Mood markers that characterize Haitian Creole (Damoiseau, 2005, DeGraff, 2007).
For example the progressive marker 'ap' that
sometimes indicates future, as in 'l’ap malad' (s/he will be sick), or it can be used to mark the
progressive aspect as in 'M’ap pale' (I am talking).
The marker 'ap' can also indicate immediate future,
as in 'l’ap wŹ’w' (s/he
will see you). The marker 'te' indicating past, as in
'li te fŹ’l' (S/he did it)
was also included.
In addition to the HC language assessment
questionnaires, parents also completed a detailed questionnaire on the
demographic and linguistic contexts in which their child was raised that
considered the complex sociolinguistic linguistic landscape of the Haitian
community in the US (BarriŹre and Monereau-Merry,
2013). Haiti has two official languages, French and Haitian Creole. Although
French co-exists with Haitian Creole at a societal level, only 10% of the
Haitian Population speaks it (DeGraff, 2009). In
contrast, all Haitians speak and understand Creole. New York City is home to
more than 180,000 residents of Haitian ancestry who belong to different social
classes and come from different regions of Haiti (BarriŹre and Monérau-Merry, 2013). Toddlers of Haitian descent
in the US may be raised learning only HC or they may also be exposed to French
and/or English (and/or Spanish, if they come from areas close to the Dominican
Republic), which is why it was important to collect detailed information on
their linguistic backgrounds.
The analyses of the results focused on number and
types of words and grammatical structures understood and produced by the
toddlers in relation to their age, the age at which they were exposed to
different languages, the proportion of use of different languages with their
parents, siblings and other relatives and caregivers, and the language(s) in
which literacy-related activities are conducted. The first results obtained on
50 toddlers enable us to a) gain insights into the complex linguistic contexts
in which HC-learning toddlers are raised, b) identify their early language
acquisition milestones and c) determine the contribution of contextual factors
to the language development of HC-learning toddlers, which will inform
clinicians and educators serving this population. [back to top]
Reaching beyond the Scol Multilingual project: Overhauling the whole education system toward a
meaningful multilingual learner-centred education
Departamento di EnseĖansa Aruba
Ten years ago a group of linguists, educational
specialists and policy makers got the task to write a new language policy for
primary education, but we were summoned to do this behind closed doors. There
was a lot of tension and debate about the language of instruction and this
topic was highly politicized back then. After proposing a multilingual
education model with Papiamento as the language of instruction throughout
primary education we got the support of the Minister of Education to introduce
this model until the fourth grade. Unfortunately at that time we couldn’t get
the support to continue this model until 6th grade, but we took the challenge
and set up the Scol Multlingual Project to develop all conditions necessary to introduce this model in all
primary schools in the near future.
As we are advancing we can now demonstrate the
benefits of multilingual literacy and the winds in public opinion and politics
have obviously changed in our favour.
Now, ten years later, in 2014, we are ready to move on
to the next level. In this paper I want to share my personal vision on how I
think we can take on the challenge to open the public debate again and continue
the multilingual model throughout primary and secondary education, keeping a major
role for Papiamento throughout our education system and building upon the other
languages in a realistic, challenging and meaningful way. [back to top]
Language planning and political restructuring in Curaçao: What's new?
Marta DIJKHOFF (Keynote)
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaćao (ABC islands) were colonies of the Netherlands until 1954 and part of the
Netherlands Antilles (along with Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, the SSS
islands). In 1954, autonomy was officially granted to the Netherlands Antilles.
Shortly afterwards, the country started disintegrating. The ABC islands are at
present three separate entities within the Kingdom. Aruba obtained an
autonomous status in 1986. In 2010, the Netherlands Antilles itself ceased to
exist. Curaćao obtained an independent status within
the kingdom, whereas Bonaire became an overseas municipality.
Schools in Curaćao (and also
those in Aruba and Bonaire) follow the Dutch educational system, despite the
political restructuring of the last decades. According to Devonish 1986, “The education system has been a major means of protecting and
perpetuating the role of Dutch as the official language, although the majority
of the inhabitants of the ABC islands speak Papiamentu as their mother tongue c.f.
able 1 (courtesy of the Central Bureau of Statistics of Curaçao and Aruba).
In this paper I want to discuss the challenges that we
face as a linguistic community in this phase of our history, with special
reference to the social and educational context in Curaćao.
These challenges are comparable to the issues Aruba has been grappling with
concerning the role of Papiamentu in education, since it left the Antillean
political constellation in 1986 cf. Croes 2010, and
Pereira 2010. Bonaire, where Dutch has been re-established as the official
language of public administration and education in 2010, is facing related, yet
greater difficulties, cf. Bak-Piard 2009. For a
review of the changes on the ABC islands before this date, cf. Dijkhoff and Pereira 2010 (“Language and education in
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaćao”, in Creoles in Education,
Bettina Migge et al., John Benjamins,
pp. 237-272). My present contribution can be considered an update of the
situation described therein. Some issues in language planning which we were
contending with are still inconclusive today, whereas others have shifted based
on a different political reality. [back to top]
Class Observations and Stakeholder Interviews in
Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
This paper is part of a panel presentation on Applied
Linguistics and the language of instruction in Dutch Caribbean schools. It
reports on the results of a year-long study concerning the language of
instruction in the schools of St. Eustatius which was conducted by our research
team from 2012 to 2013.
With the goal of attaining a qualitative understanding
of the lived experiences of the people of St. Eustatius in relation to the
language of instruction used in the schools on the island, our research team
conducted 19 observations of regularly scheduled classes at all levels of
primary and secondary education and 49 focus group interview meetings,
including 9 meetings with groups of teachers, 12 meetings with individuals and
groups involved with educational management, 22 meetings with groups involved
in activities associated with the educational system (youth and family
services, etc.), 5 meetings with groups of students, and 1 general meeting with
The classroom observations revealed that students and
teachers at all levels perform better when English is taught as a first
language and used as the general language of instruction and when Dutch is
taught as a foreign language and not used as the general language of
instruction. We observed that while students enjoy learning Dutch when it is
taught in an informal and playful way as a foreign language in the early years
of primary school, their enthusiasm for learning Dutch diminishes as the
transition is made to Dutch as the main language of instruction at the end of
primary school, and evaporates when Dutch becomes the main language of
instruction in secondary school. In early primary classrooms, we witnessed
uniformly high levels of class participation among all students in classes where
English is used as the main language of instruction and Dutch is taught as a
foreign language. But in later primary and secondary classes where Dutch is
taught as a first or second language and used as the language of instruction,
we almost invariably observed a ‘core/periphery effect’ whereby a few students,
most of whom have some significant exposure to Dutch outside of school,
constitute an engaged ‘core’ that actively participates and interacts with the
teacher, while the majority of the students retreat into the disengaged
non-participating ‘periphery’ of the class.
What we observed in the classrooms was confirmed
during our focus group interview meetings. While all stakeholders agreed that
the schools on St. Eustatius should be producing students with high levels of
competence in both English and Dutch, none thought that the schools were
actually achieving this for either language. All agreed that for the great
majority of the people on St. Eustatius, Statian English is a first language and Dutch is a foreign language. A number of
stakeholders commented on growing levels of hostility among students (and some
parents) toward Dutch language and all things Dutch. Even some of the few
students who speak Dutch at home now refuse to speak Dutch at school. [back to top]
Teachers' attitudes towards the creole language
BALLESTER and Janet RAMSEY
The present study constitutes a sociolinguistic approach to the language situation of Antiguan Creole (hereafter AC) at school settings, in order to delve into the linguistic educational problems of the creole community in Antigua. Formerly a British colony, Antigua, the larger entity of the twin-island State of Antigua and Barbuda (West Indies), has kept English as its official language, although AC is the native language of nearly all Antiguans. Thus, AC confronts one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, English, and the creole is consistently viewed as manifesting illiteracy and poverty. Notwithstanding, the system of values surrounding AC is highly complex and its study may shed light on issues such as language education policies as well as linguistic rights, identity, and nationalism.
In the Anglophone Caribbean, similar sociolinguistic studies include early works by Le Page 1968, Craig 1971, 1976, Winford 1976, Devonish 1983, 1986 and Carrington 1989, among others. Since then, subsequent research has continued, e.g. Morren 2001, Collins Hebbert, García Wilson and Koskinen 2009, Léglise 2010, Carpenter and Devonish 2010, Wilkinson 2011, but there is a need for more analyses of language situations in educational settings of less well-known creole languages, such as AC. Following an enquiry among teachers carried out in 2012-2013, this study aims to fill this gap by presenting research on teachers' attitudes towards the creole, the language situation they confront, and the results of an «English only» policy in the classroom.
The study draws some conclusions regarding language education with regard to AC. It sheds light on the students’ and teachers’ use of AC, their knowledge of it, their viewpoint toward its use, and the language policy held at schools. This is important as the students’ progression in language skills acquisition may well be determined by the attitudes toward both AC and English which predominate in the educational community. There is room for concern in the way subjects must be taught exclusively in English, especially in the formative years of the young students, whose native and everyday language is creole, while English is neither a native nor a foreign language.
[back to top]
Screening for Language Development among
Trinidadian English Creole-speaking Children
Samantha JACKSON and Valerie YOUSSEF
The University of the West Indies, St Augustine
Screening of pre-school children for speech and
language development is normative in metropolitan countries where it is
recognized that early intervention is crucial to maximize elimination of
potential deficits. Where a potential speech or language difficulty surfaces in
screening, children are then referred for full assessment, diagnosis and
treatment. This kind of intervention is needed throughout the Caribbean and
some progress is being made.
This paper reports on the results of a language
screening exercise carried out in the island of Trinidad between January and
March 2014 as a precursor to fuller language assessment in both Creole and
Standard Trinidadian varieties. The investigation was carried out among
one-hundred and twenty (120) four- and five-year- old children in seven Early
Childhood Care and Education Centres throughout
Trinidad. These Centres are managed or assisted by
the Trinidad and Tobago Government to give children without the socio-economic
means to attend private pre-schools, the chance to develop educationally and
obtain the phonological awareness necessary to pre-literacy before entering
mainstream primary schooling.
For Creole-speaking children the American screening
measure, The Kindergarten Language Screening Test, Second Edition (KLST-2),
proved challenging since the Standard English questions included several
vocabulary items and grammatical structures with which, as Creole speakers,
they were unfamiliar. In addition, some of the questions required a level of
phonological, grammatical and cognitive preparedness which might be expected
from a middle-class, educationally-oriented US family environment but which
would not likely be the focus of a Trinidadian lower-class domain.
The paper documents the nature and extent of these
problematic items, and the responses they invoked, and suggests measures for
adaptation of the materials which could then be tried and tested in this
Caribbean linguistic milieu as a precursor to establishing norm-referenced
screening tests suitable for Caribbean Creole speakers. [back to top]
Language attitudes and language use in St.
This paper is part of a proposed panel presentation on
Applied Linguistics and the language of instruction in Dutch Caribbean schools.
It reports on the results of a year-long study concerning the language of
instruction in the schools of St. Eustatius which was conducted by our research
group from 2012 to 2013.
In order to collect quantitative information regarding
language use and attitudes toward language and education in St. Eustatius, we
designed a survey which was administered to all of the stakeholders in the
educational system on the island. The survey consisted of four parts: 1) a set
of general questions designed to investigate attitudes toward language and
education; 2) a more specific set of questions concerning opinions about the
importance of the Dutch language in different domains; 3) another set of
specific questions about the use of various languages in specific settings; and
4) a final series of questions on the demographic characteristics of each
respondent. 432 questionnaires were collected from a representative sample of
primary and secondary school students, parents, teachers, other education
professionals, and the general public.
Statistical analysis of the responses indicate that
while St. Eustatius is a multilingual community, Statian English (a continuum of varieties ranging from Caribbean Standard English to Statian English lexifier Creole)
is the most widely used language across all domains. The majority of the
population is only exposed to Dutch in very formal domains, mainly in the
classroom. Dutch is nonetheless considered by most to be a very important
language. Most respondents feel strongly that the education system should
ensure that students have high levels of competence in both English and Dutch.
Attitudes toward bilingualism are positive as are attitudes toward both English
and Dutch. That being said, students (as well as their parents) in secondary
education, where the use of Dutch as the language of instruction is most
systematically and rigorously enforced, express less positive attitudes toward
Dutch and education in Dutch than do other groups. . This suggests that the
obligatory use of Dutch at school is having a negative impact on attitudes
In general, the results of the survey indicate that
what has been a very polarizing debate over language of instruction on the
island over the past decades actually conceals remarkable levels of agreement
by all stakeholder groups about what is happening linguistically on the ground
at present and about how the education system should be equipping the students
linguistically for the future. The statistics on language use clearly indicate
that for the great majority of the population, Statian English is a first language and Dutch is a foreign language. The statistics on
attitudes reveal that everyone wants students to achieve academic competence in
both English and Dutch at school. In other words, nearly everyone agrees on
where they are now (A) and where they want to go (B), with the only serious
differences of opinion centring on how to get from A
to B. [back to top]
Applied Linguistics in St. Eustatius and the
rest of the Dutch Caribbean: How can linguists contribute constructively to
debates concerning the languages of instruction in Caribbean schools?
University of Wisconsin
Debates regarding language of instruction at the
primary and secondary levels have been raging for decades in the Caribbean in
general, and in the Dutch Caribbean in particular. Most of the students on the Statian English- lexifier Creole-speaking Dutch island of St. Eustatius (and in most of the rest of the
Dutch Caribbean) find themselves in a situation at school where Dutch is used
as the language of instruction, even though the overwhelming majority of them
almost never encounter written or spoken Dutch outside of the classroom. The
use of Dutch as a language of instruction has effectively limited the numbers
of Dutch Caribbean students who manage to succeed at school to the small
minority whose parents are willing and able to speak Dutch at home, whose
families are willing and able to pay for special tutoring in Dutch after
school; and/or who have very exceptional levels of capacity and motivation for
learning. The rest of the students are left behind.
In order to help find solutions to this problem, our
research group was approached toward the end of 2012 by the educational
authorities in both St. Eustatius and the European Netherlands to study the
question. We accepted the challenge, well aware of the fact that, despite our
best intentions, when we linguists and specialists in language
education have gotten involved in such controversies in the past, our input has
more often than not proved to be very polarizing and, in the final analysis,
counterproductive. In order to avoid making a bad situation worse, we adopted a
community based approach that would actively involve all of the stakeholders in
the education system on the island in the process of identifying, analyzing,
and finding solutions to the problem at hand. We also decided to complement
this approach with a multi-pronged set of research strategies including: 1) a
language attitude and use survey of a representative sample of all of the
stakeholders; 2) a narrative proficiency test to gauge students’ levels of
productive competence in Dutch and English; 3) in depth interviews with members
of all stakeholder groups; 4) numerous classroom observations at all levels in
all of the schools on the island; and 5) a review of the scientific literature
about societies who face similar challenges regarding language of instruction
as those found on St. Eustatius.
In this panel presentation, we will present the
results of this year-long study, which were finalized, accepted, and presented
to the stakeholders in January of 2014. In general, it appears that the
community based multi-strategy approach adopted in this study has made it
possible to recast the debate around language in education in more
scientifically grounded and less polemical terms, thereby facilitating a
process of community mobilization to better meet the educational needs of Statian students. [back to top]
The Minor and Certificate in Linguistics at The
College of The Bahamas: An Examination of Bahamian Creole Content
The College of the Bahamas
As in many other creole-speaking territories of the
Caribbean, the struggle for recognition of the creole in The Bahamas is a long
and difficult process. Views about Bahamian Creole range from those who propose
its non- existence to those whose academic research has successfully argued its
existence. While the linguistic research carried out on Bahamian Creole is
limited in comparison to that of other creoles of the region, from an academic
perspective, there is no denying its existence.
In June 2011, after 37 years of existence, The College
of The Bahamas approved its first linguistics programmes – a Minor and a Certificate in Linguistics. Both programmes share seven identical goals, four of which focus on Bahamian Creole and are as
follows. The Minor and Certificate in Linguistics:
● [build] awareness of the differences between Bahamian Dialect/Bahamian
Creole and Standard English, especially among future educators, and
prepares them to resolve critical sociolinguistic issues in the Bahamian speech
communities arising out of the socio-historical context(s) of the Caribbean
● [build] awareness of and respect for Bahamian Dialect/ Bahamian Creole,
both among future educators and among the student population generally;
● [build] knowledge about Bahamian language and culture and Bahamianist scholarship by having students work with
faculty on original research projects;
● [introduce] students to the history and the historical developments of both
Standard English and Bahamian Dialect/ Bahamian Creole as social, historical
constructions, and their typological characteristics or genealogical
affinities; (Minor Programme of Study in Linguistics,
2011; Certificate Programme in Linguistics, 2011)
This paper presents an overview of the Minor and
Certificate in Linguistics paying particular attention to those courses that
have Bahamian Creole as their primary focus. Further, an examination of programme goals and course content confirms a strong
correlation between them; that is, the content of lower- and upper- level
courses reflects an emphasis on Bahamian Creole in keeping with the goals of
the programmes. The paper concludes that the
introduction of the Minor and Certificate in Linguistics is a seemingly small,
but significant step in gaining recognition for Bahamian Creole. [back to top]
Narrative proficiency in Dutch and English among
students in St. Eustatius
University of Aruba
This paper is part of a proposed panel presentation on
Applied Linguistics and the language of instruction in Dutch Caribbean schools.
It reports on the results of a year-long study concerning the language of
instruction in the schools of St. Eustatius which was conducted by our research
group from 2012 to 2013.
In order to obtain a general idea of the productive
competence of students in St. Eustatius in both English and Dutch during and
after the transition is made from English as the main language of instruction
in the first four years of primary school to Dutch as the main language of
instruction in secondary school, a Narrative Proficiency test was designed by
our research team. The test was then administered to 177 students aged 10 to 15
in the final two years of primary and the first years of secondary education.
In the test, students were asked to write a story based on a series of 6 images
that represented a chronological storyline. One randomly selected half of each
participating class was asked to write the story in English first, then in
Dutch, while the other half of the class was asked to write the story in Dutch
first, then in English. The images and storyline were designed so that a story
could be told based on them using only high frequency words and minimally
complex sentence structures.
While administering the tests, students at all levels
demonstrated a collective negative attitude toward Dutch, and students who were
expected to write their first story in Dutch postponed the task or started to
act out instead of attending to it. Generally, students performed better
writing in English than in Dutch, although some students managed to produce
high quality stories in both languages. Stories written by students in the last
two years of primary school seldom met the standards set for the core
objectives of primary education, even though these students performed much
better when they wrote in English than when they wrote in Dutch. After primary
school, the development of written language proficiency in English appeared to
come to a standstill. The written language proficiency for Dutch improved
during and after the transition to Dutch as the language of instruction at the
end of primary school, but in general proficiency in English remained better
than in Dutch, even at the secondary level. After several years of
secondary education, written proficiency in both Dutch and English was in most
instances still well below all of the core targets set for primary education in
These results demonstrate that the present system is
not equipping the majority of the students with adequate levels of competence
in either Dutch or English. As students progress through the final years of
primary education and the first few years of secondary education, they fall
further and further behind the expected levels for both languages and they
develop negative attitudes toward using Dutch in school. [back to top]
Raising awareness of de facto language education
policy in Jamaican schools
New York University
In response to the low levels of literacy and poor
examination performance in several Jamaican schools, especially among
Creole-dominant speakers (Bryan, 2004; Christie, 2003; Craig, 1983), coupled
with the significant disparity in academic achievement among students in
different types of schools, the Jamaican Ministry of Education (MOE) drafted a
national Language Education Policy (LEP) in 2001. Taking as its premise that
Jamaica is a bilingual country with English as the official language and
Jamaican Creole as the mass vernacular, the draft LEP is based on an approach
of transitional bilingualism. Although never formally ratified, the LEP remains
a draft document on the MOE’s website as a guide for the practice of language
and literacy teaching in Jamaican schools.
This paper, based on a nine-month long critical
ethnographic study in three different types of Jamaican schools during the
2011-2012 academic year, poses the question: What are Jamaican teachers’
language attitudes and language teaching practices in the absence of a formally
ratified LEP? Based on weekly classroom observations,
analysis of demographic questionnaires, and interviews of six English Language
Arts teachers (two in each school), the study raises awareness of the
differences in language and literacy practices among different types of
schools; and the extent to which current practices in language and literacy
education may or may not align with the principles of the draft policy.
Consistent with Menken and García’s (2010) claim that
teachers are policymakers, findings reveal that the teachers’ language
attitudes and practices created de facto language education policy in schools,
which reflected larger historical, sociolinguistic, and political forces in the
local context. Key among the findings are: classroom teaching practices heavily
influenced by national examinations; conflicting teacher attitudes towards
Jamaican Creole; and teachers simultaneous resistance to, appropriation of,
dominant linguistic ideologies in a Creole-speaking environment in response to
actual vernacular language use in classrooms, adding a more complicated agentive
dimension to Shohamy’s (2006) framework linking
ideologies to LEP through institutional structures.
Recommendations for stakeholders are offered in terms
of raising awareness of the academic consequences of de facto LEP; revising the
draft LEP to make it more responsive to current language education needs; and
enhancing teacher training on a national level to include linguistically
informed best practices with the goal of improving language and literacy
practices among all students, especially Creole-dominant speakers. [back to top]
Identity Personified through Education: The Case
for Raising Awareness of Papiamento
City University of New York
Preliminary research carried out on attitudes towards
Papiamento suggests that there appears to be a dichotomy between Papiamento’s
utilization in education and certain cultural aspects, such as music. Through
data collected and analyzed from interviews, Papiamento was often lauded as an
identity marker but it wasn't given the same important status within education.
As identity and language are inextricably intertwined, the use of a creole
language within education becomes a complex issue. Studies, including Bühmann and Trudell’s UNESCO
report, show that while including a mother tongue can present challenges, there
are positive outcomes in utilizing local languages in education (2008). Kephart also suggests this in his study on students’
progress in reading in their own language, Carriacou Creole English (1992).
As mother tongues are also praised as integral
identity markers, language plays a substantial role within society. Papiamento
is used regularly through social media and is even considered central within
certain platforms such as the popular mobile app Vine. But as Papiamento
continues to enjoy success within certain social spheres, the stigma associated
with its limited use in education is still prevalent among many today. This
paper aims to explore the dichotomy within language planning in education and
how it correlates to Papiamento’s presence within its social sphere. It also
aims to look at the ways in which awareness for Papiamento has impacted its
presence within education. [back to top]
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
UAG (IUFM Cayenne) & SEDYL-CELIA and CNRS (SEDYL-CELIA)
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
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
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?