Pidgins, Creoles and Nonstandard Dialects in Education

edited by Jeff Siegel (Applied Linguistics Association of Australia)


“The case against a transfer bilingual program of Torres Strait Creole to English in Torres Strait schools”

Summary: “A survey of teachers’ attitudes towards the use of Tok Pisin in Community Schools in Papua New Guinea”

“English in the education of speakers of Aboriginal English”

“Kriol and education in the Kimberley”

“Teaching initial literacy in a pidgin language: a preliminary evaluation”

“Reading creole English does not destroy your brain cells!”

“Teaching English to Kriol speakers: the Kartiya Game”

Summary: “Fostering English language in Kimberley Schools: an in-service course for teachers”

“Educating speakers of Caribbean English Creole in the United States”


Most of the contributions to this volume were first presented as papers in the workshop, “Pidgins, Creoles and Non-standard Dialects in Education: Issues and Answers”, held at the 16th Annual Congress of the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia at James Cook University in October, 1991. The aims of the workshop were to examine the question of using pidgins, creoles and nonstandard dialects within formal education; to discuss his question from different academic perspectives: linguistic, sociological, and educational; and to take a more practical look at already established programs using these varieties of language.

The papers fall into two groups: first, those discussing some of the issues involved, and second, those describing some practical answers. The first paper by Shnukal takes up the arguments for and against using Torres Strait Creole as a formal medium of instruction, concentrating on the attitudes of Torres Strait Islanders. The summary of Nidue’s paper which follows indicates similar negative attitudes among Papua New Guinean teachers towards the use of Tok Pisin (the PNG dialect of Melanesian Pidgin) in primary schools. Malcolm’s paper then discusses the use of Aboriginal English in the schools according to the traditional and a revised model of bidialectal education. Also in the Aboriginal context, Mickan’s paper deals with the issues of Kriol in education in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Some preliminary answers about the use of pidgins and creoles in formal education are found in the second group of papers. Siegel reports on the inital results of a study which show that using Melanesian Pidgin to teach intial literacy in a preschool program has educational and social benefits and, contrary to popular attitudes, does not interfere with the acquisition of standard English. In the following paper, Kephart presents similar results from an earlier study done with Creole English in the Caribbean. Another kind of answer has to do with using creoles in “awareness” programs in formal education rather than as languages of instruction. Awareness programs teach how creoles are legitimate languages, different from English, and concentrate on pointing out the formal and pragmatic dinstinctions. Referring to previous work on such programs with Kriol in Western Australia, Ovington’s paper describes one successful teaching technique. The summary of Hudson’s paper outlines an in-service course for teachers to make them more aware of Kriol. Finally, Fischer’s paper describes an awareness program developed quite independently in America, but with teaching methods and positive results similar to those in Australia..

[This collection will be available early in 1993. For more information, please contact the editor.]


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