Our Readers' Opinions
April 21, 2006
Plagued by poor English

Editor: A story expressing the displeasure of Mr. Luis DeShong, of the Ministry of Education, with regard to the use of English in schools in last week’s SEARCHLIGHT has me somewhat confused. Has Mr. DeShong just realized that there is a problem with spoken and written Standard English in our schools? I am convinced that the ministry is well aware of this problem. We must remember a few things. The pool from which we choose our teachers of English is very limited. We have seen cases of persons employed as teachers of English who neither speak nor write Standard English. The question is, exactly how did these persons qualify as student teachers of English at the SVG Teachers’ College in the first place?{{more}}

Many of us may teach standard English; unfortunately this may be the only forum for too many children to practice Standard English since we have to deal with the counter-culture in the homes and neighborhoods. Teaching standard English is critical and we need to understand that educating children is a tripartite issue, the student, the teacher and the parent. This may be the time for the Association of Teachers of English to confront their counterparts in addressing the problem of non-standard English in the classrooms.

This may also be the time to revisit the policy informing the placement of not just English teachers but teachers in our schools, both primary and secondary. It is easy to tell whether or not standard English is part of a person’s repertoire by the way that person struggles to articulate on a given point, or the way he or she asks or responds to a question.

Before persons are placed in schools as teachers, they must be interviewed. Would it not be possible to recognize the weaknesses of such persons at that time? It is time to introduce refresher courses for teachers in both prose and speech. Mastery of Standard English must be mandatory for ALL teachers and not just teachers of English. Until we make it mandatory, then we will be plagued by the use of non-standard English in our schools.

LaBelle Marcelle