A Symposium on Pidgin and Creole Linguistics in the 21st Century was held as part of the conference of the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, held in conjunction with the meeting of the Linguistics Society of America in New York City, 9-11 January 1998. One of the papers in the symposium was “Applied Creolistics in the 21st Century” by Jeff Siegel. Here is a summary of the paper:

Many speakers of pidgins, creoles and minority dialects remain disadvantaged in education, employment and dealings with the law. Yet despite periodic calls for creolists to do more to help speakers of the languages they study, very little has been happening. This paper is a call for a greater role for “applied creolistics” in the 21st century.

The paper starts off by outlining some of the modest efforts that have taken place in various parts of the world in applied areas such as legal contexts, translating and interpreting, and education.

With regard to education, the paper describes three types of programs which use individual pidgins, creoles or minority dialects: instrumental, accommodation and awareness. Research on the effectiveness of such programs is then presented.

The paper goes on to suggest a plan of action and research agenda for applied creolistics in the 21st century. Three steps are described: documentation, establishment of pilot programs and systematic evaluation of these programs. The importance of promotion, publicity and public awareness is also discussed.

In conclusion, the paper calls on creolists to get involved in the community, to make contacts with other professionals, such as educationists, associated with speakers of pidgins, creoles or minority dialects, to give papers at conferences and publish in journals other than those for linguists, and to campaign for language awareness (or basic sociolinguistics) to be a component of training for teachers and a part of the general language arts curriculum, starting in primary school.

It is also suggested that two new websites be created, aimed at the general public, including primary and high school students: one on creoles in general and one on African American English. Finally, it is recommended that there be a special session at SPCL conferences devoted to applied issues and that an applied creolistics committee be established to coordinate activities in the area.

An invitational Conference on Language Diversity and Academic Achievement in the Education of African American Students was held in New York City on 11-12 January, 1998. Here is the press release about it:

Researchers and Educators Advocate Wider Understanding of Language Diversity

A group of nationally recognized leaders in education, linguistics, communication, and speech pathology called upon public school officials to take seriously the systematic differences among varieties of spoken and written English common in this country.

Language differences play a critical role in instructional effectiveness, student learning, and educational assessment, according to Donna Christian, President of the Center for Applied Linguistics.

These conclusions were reached at a Conference on Language Diversity and Academic Achievement in the Education of African American Students in New York City on January 11 and 12, 1998. The conference was sponsored by national professional and research organizations.

“The classroom is a communicative environment and most instruction and assessment involves the use of language,” says Orlando Taylor, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Howard University. “A disregard for language diversity can inhibit effective instruction and student learning and can result in inappropriate evaluation of student achievement.” he continues.

For example, those attending the conference agreed that contrasts between Standard English and some of the varieties of English spoken by African American students frequently lead to ineffective classroom instruction and mistakes in identifying predictable differences between language varieties as deficiencies in reading, writing, and speaking. This lack of understanding pairs with negative attitudes to foster low expectations that often impede academic achievement for the students involved.

Researchers urged teacher education programs to give the nation’s teachers accurate and practical information about language and dialect diversity to enhance their ability to teach students that come from a variety of language communities. They also described successful programs for training teachers and their students about how English varies in different geographical regions and social groups.

Attending the conference were teachers, school administrators, educational researchers, linguists, speech pathologists, communication scholars, professors, university deans, and representatives of the sponsoring organizations.

The conference was sponsored by the American Association for Applied Linguistics, the American Dialect Society, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Center for Applied Linguistics, the Council of the Great City Schools, Howard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Linguistic Society of America, the National Alliance of Black School Educators, the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing, the National Communication Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement at the US Department of Education, and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Contacts: Dr Orlando Taylor, Howard University, (202) 806-6800; or Dr Donna Christian, Center for Applied Linguistics (202) 429-9292.

The Fourth International Creole Language Workshop was held at Florida International University in North Miami 19-21 March 1998, organized by Tometro Hopkins and helpers from the Linguistics Program and African-New World Studies. The theme of this year’s workshop was “Standardizing the Creole: Orthography, Vocabulary and Structure”. The following papers were presented:

Pidgins and creoles in education: An overview (Jeff Siegel)
Hu laik no hau fo rait pijin (Suzanne Romaine)
Some pedagogical problems in acquiring and using vocabulary in Caribbean French and Caribbean Spanish (Jeanette Allsopp)
Standardization and native language proficiency (Peter Roberts)
Lessons learned from orthography development for Belize Kriol (Ken Decker, read by Ron Morrens)
Perspectives on Haitian Creole and African American English in the context of multicultural education (Flore Zéphir)
Awareness and contrast: Standard English and teacher preparation in the United States (Glenn Gilbert and Sharon Gilbert)
A Creole English reading experiment (Ronald Kephart)
Kreol Morisyen and Seselwa in education (Dany Adone)
Aftaa yu laan dem fi riid an rait dem Kriiyol, den wa muo? Creole - and the teaching of the lexifier language (Dennis Craig)
Cat – Puss or What the leaves hear (Ian Robertson)
How can you standardize in a continuum? (Derek Bickerton)
“Standards” for a continuum: A contradiction in terms? (Loreto Todd)
Haitian school children: An asset in the standardization of Haitian Creole (Marie Jocelyn Levy)
Identifying the standards for Haitian Creole: Reducing the gap between oral and written standard (Yves Dejean)
Problems and strategies in the administration of a Frierian approach to adult literacy in Mauritian Creole (Laura Hills)
Using a creole to teach literacy (Vincent Cooper)
Issues in the promotion of a Creole orthography (Kathryn Shields-Brodber)
An automated approach to Haitian Creole orthography conversion (Marilyn Mason)
Standard, orthography, and the classroom teacher (Velma Pollard)
Wence Haitian Creole grammar? (Michel DeGraff)
How is Haitian Creole spoken in formal situations? (Hugues St Fort)

The Society for Pidgin and Creole Languages (SPCL) will meet (in conjunc-tion with the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America) on 8-9 January 1999 at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. For the first time, there will be a special section on Applied Creolistics.

SPCL will also meet in conjunction with Le 9e Colloque International des Etudes Créoles in Aix-en-Provence, France, 24-29 June 1999.

For more information on either of these conferences, see the CreoList Calendar:

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