session on educational issues was held at the Summer Conference
of the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics at the University
of Hawai‘i in Honolulu August 14-17, 2003. Here are the abstracts
of the relevant papers.
Pidgin and creole educational policies in
the wake of the Ebonics controversy
This paper evaluates a combination of federal and state laws and
corresponding educational policies for students who are speakers
of pidgin and Creole languages throughout the United States, including
Hawaii. Linguists such as Lippi-Green (1997) and Sato (1989) have
raised important educational consider-ations regarding students
who are not native speakers of mainstream varieties of English,
and their work informs the present evaluation of recent and on-going
changes in federal and state laws that seek to modify or mandate
programs for students who are not readily classified as English
language learners (see Cummins 1980, Hakuta 1986, Valdés
The educational controversy that began in Oakland, California in
1996 with a resolution declaring Ebonics to be the native language
of African American students within that school district exposed
additional legal gaps in educational language policies. Studies
by Perry and Delpit (1997), Rickford and Rickford (2000), Adger
et al (2000), Baugh (2000) and Smitherman (2000) call specific attention
to the educational plight of African American students. In so doing
their efforts raise important educational questions that are directly
or indirectly relevant to students who speak pidgin and Creole languages,
especially for those varieties that were formulated in contact with
English. Former secretary of Education, Richard Riley, concluded
that Oakland’s educators were seeking bilingual education
funding, and he denied access to such funding. The legality of his
assertions is called into question here.
After a brief survey of legal issues regarding Title I (for students
in poverty), Title VII (for English Language Learners) and the Individuals
with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA, for deaf students or others
with pathological linguistic handicaps), we survey LeMoine’s
innovative efforts in the Los Angeles Unified School District, beginning
with the “Language Development Program for African American
students,” and its evolution into the “Academic English
Mastery Program.” Briefly, the latter effort, which is intended
to serve students from diverse linguistic backgrounds, grows directly
from bilingual education policies developed by Krashen (1984) and
Cummins (1980), albeit with modifications that are intended to meet
the literacy needs of traditional English language learners as well
as students who are native speakers of African American vernacular
English (i.e., AAVE, or Ebonics).
LeMoine’s efforts, supported by a combination of federal,
state, and local funds, provide a basis upon which to consider expansion
to other communities that serve pidgin and Creole students (e.g.,
such as students who speak Haitian Creole). However promising, we
conclude with caution based of the efforts of Ron Unz, who has sponsored
voter initiatives under the banner of “English for the Children.”
His efforts have severely constrained bilingual education, and could
easily restrict programs like those developed by LeMoine in Los
The paper concludes with precise suggestions that can circumvent
Unz’s efforts, and are tailored to comply with federal laws
in pursuit of developing comprehensive educational language policies
that are based upon the home language(s) of individual students;
that is, regardless of their linguistic heritage.
and HCE: Comparative history of educational debates with policy
Eileen H. Tamura
Like African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Hawai‘i Creole
English (HCE) has long been a topic of educational concern. Why?
Both have been prevalent and noticeable within their communities.
Both have raised questions about their role in hindering the learning
of standard English (SE). Both have stymied educators and been at
the center of controversial policies. A comparative history of the
debates generated by these two nonstandard forms of English can
be instructive. The similar myths about them and the attendant issues
they raise point to policy implications.
Considerable research on dialects and creoles appeared in the 1960s
and 70s (Labov 1965; Jacobson 1971; Landau 1979; Wolfram & Fasold
1974). An enlightened view of nonstandard forms of English emerged,
one that recognized them to have legitimate grammatical and pronunciation
patterns. Efforts were made to teach teachers about ways to help
students who spoke nonstandard English (e.g., Burling 1974; DeStefano
1973; Fasold 1971; Shores 1972). Despite considerable publication
on stigmatized languages, however, public understanding did not
follow. Two school board controversies in Hawai‘i and Oakland
attest to this lack of knowledge and to the politics of language.
I provide highlights of the school board controversies and discuss
reasons why stigmatized dialects persist: a critical mass of like
speakers; the desire to maintain fluency; in-group identity (Giles,
Bourhis & Taylor 1997; Rickford 1998; Ogbu 2000); resistance
to “acting White” (Fordham & Ogbu 1996); and issues
of class (White et al 1998).
Implications for Policymakers: Academic Achievement. Scholars note
the fallacy of making a linear connection between speaking and writing
(Da Pidgin Coup 1999). Writing requires skills that are different
from speaking (Shaughnessy 1977). But even if scholars were to establish
indisputably that nonstandard forms of English are not barriers
to writing, schools have the responsibility of teaching SE so that
students can code-switch. Students should be given the tools to
enter mainstream society should they want to do so. In this light,
what is the best way to teach SE while at the same time respecting
native dialects? The pedagogical literature (e.g., Harper, Braithwaite
& LaGrange 1998; Hoover 1998; Perry & Delpit 1998; Taylor
1998) argues that teachers should understand the causes of student
resistance, teachers should start from where the student is, teachers
and students should understand the grammatical structure of the
nonstandard dialect, and teachers should understand the sociological
causes of low student achievement.
Politics of Language. The way people attach prestige to different
language varieties, and the connection between marginal dialects
and lower socioeconomic classes, make nonstandard forms of English
ripe for educational controversy. In Oakland and Hawai‘i,
native speakers were strong critics of AAVE and HCE—an illustration
of cultural hegemony (Hall, 1997; Reyes 1987; Lippi-Green 1997;
Corson 1991). Despite more than three decades of sociolinguistic
research, scholars have made little headway in eliminating public
ignorance about language diversity. The uproars in Hawai‘i
and Oak-land demonstrate the need for educators to anticipate controversy.
Moreover, linguists must continually spend considerable effort in
educating each new generation.
FELIKS Approach to teaching
Joyce Hudson & Rosalind Berry
There are many literacy programs in Australia which have been developed
with the aim of improving the educational outcomes of Indigenous
students whose first language is a creole or a nonstandard variety
of English. Since the early 90s, linguist Joyce Hudson and ESL consultant
Rosalind Berry have worked with teachers and students in northern
Australia developing a bidialectal program known as The FELIKS (Fostering
English Language In Kimberley Schools) Approach. This includes Professional
Development packages, a resource book for teachers and a video.
As creoles and non-standard dialects become prominent in education
programs around the world, the need to actively teach students to
develop their code-switching skills has been increasingly recognised.
In 1991 Elizabeth Coelho wrote in Caribbean Students in Canadian
Schools, Book 2: “Effective language learning takes place
when students are conscious of their need to learn the new language…
this means that there must be a positive awareness of language variety
and of the need to select appropriate language for specific purposes.”
(p.90) The FELIKS Approach focusses on this need for awareness and
control of language varieties. Its central feature is the use of
a Code-switching Stairway which was developed to help teachers understand
the needs of students and plan activities for the classroom.
The Stairway begins at the bottom with the Awareness step. Teachers
and students must first become aware of the reality of the two varieties
and have a positive attitude toward the creole/nonstandard variety
of English (nsE). Only then can students learn to separate the creole
from the standard language (the Separation Step). Here teaching
of English as a second language/dialect is emphasised. The third
step is Code-switching where there is focus on developing the crucial
skill of switching, competently and with confidence, between creole/nsE
and the standard variety. Finally, the top step of Control is one
that continues past the classroom years and into real life. During
the presentation each of the four steps will be explained and illustrated
by video clips.
Australia’s Indigenous people who have gained control over
the standard language frequently feel that they have done so at
the expense of their creole/nsE. Students who are taught using The
FELIKS Approach will be encouraged to increase their skills in both
the creole/nsE and the standard language, thus providing greater
opportunities in the mainstream society without losing their identity.
Opportunities for rigorous testing have not been available to the
developers because of the enthusiastic acceptance of the approach
by both indigenous creole speakers and the teachers of English who
demanded more support and resources. Energies were always directed
at the practical issues of preparing more professional development
and classroom resources. The presentation will include anecdotal
evidence from teachers of the effectiveness of The FELIKS Approach.
trilingual education –
San Andres Island, Caribbean
Ronald C. Morren
This paper presents an “applied linguistic issue”. Its
primary focus is education, though historical, social, linguistic,
and ortho-graphical features are intertwined and are acknowledged
and dealt with. Research in the past 50 years supports UNESCO’s
position that: “It is axiomatic that the best medium for teaching
a child is his mother tongue… Educationally, he learns more
quickly through it than through an unfamiliar linguistic medium”
(UNESCO 1953: 11).
presentation reports on a trilingual education project on the Colombian
owned Caribbean Island of San Andres. On San Andres, an English
lexifier Creole language is spoken known as Islander English. The
main inhabitants of San Andres are of African descent. In the mid
1800s a school was established for the Islanders using standard
English as the medium of instruction. “By the end of the 19th
century more than 90% of these [Islanders] were able to read and
write in English” (Vollmer, 1997: 56). In 1953 Colombia declared
San Andres Island a free port. Many Hispanic Colombians moved to
San Andres to establish duty free businesses precipitating a demographic,
economic, and linguistic change. Before long, government services
were being conducted in Spanish, including public education.
Islander English-speakers became alarmed that their mother tongue,
values, and cultural mores were being eroded. They recognized the
importance of knowing Spanish, but did not want to lose their identity
as Islander English-speakers. Therefore, some form of bilingual
education utilizing both English and Spanish that simultaneously
passed on their cultural heritage was favored.
After discussing various instructive possibilities with Islander
English-speaking leaders a trilingual education approach was agreed
upon. This begins schooling with Islander English, proceeds to standard
English, and then Spanish. The goal at the end of primary schooling
is age appropriate language proficiency in these three languages.
It is hypothesized that San Andres Island children who, during their
pre-first and first grade of school are taught in their mother tongue
and are given mother tongue support in subsequent grades, will do
better academically in the content areas such as mathematics, social
science, and natural science. Further, upon completion of primary
school these children will be able to speak a second and third language
(i.e. English and Spanish) as well as or better than other Island
children who did not receive instruction in the mother tongue.
The presentation will describe the model in detail, the procedures
for standardizing the orthography, the development of curriculum
materials to date, and reactions of Islander English-speakers.
SPCL will meet jointly with the Society for Caribbean Linguistics
(SCL) in August 2004 in Curaçao.