Our Readers' Opinions
April 7, 2006

Clarification on Points of Language

EDITOR: “Teaching standard English as a second language” does not mean that it should be the secondary language of the nation but refers to the fact that for many it is the second language they encounter. It suggests that the teaching methodology employed in English class should be akin to that of a foreign language subject, ie the inclusion of oral practice.{{more}}

Let us understand that the reason many children and adults do not have a working grasp of standard English is because they don’t use it in daily life. Those of us who use it with ease, either grew up hearing standard English spoken at home, have traveled overseas, or went to one of the ‘elite’ schools in the bygone days where the dialect was left outside the school gates. In any case, direct exposure through conversation ensured proficiency.

Despite what anyone says, there is no need to feel embarrassed that foreigners cannot understand our local dialect- any more than if they have trouble understanding Swahili or any other African language. The issue surely is to ensure that all Vincentians become fluent in standard English.

Some simple steps taken by the Ministry of Education (ie inclusion of oral English practice in the lesson plan; oral practice sessions for teachers to ensure that all subjects can be taught in Standard English) could resolve the problem thus avoiding the tragedy of making the majority of children feel inferior simply because of the circumstances of their birth.

Vonnie Roudette