THIRD ILLUMINATION LECTURE
Kathy Depradine, PhD
Kwéyòl-la pa Bata: The St Lucian Language Situation and the Use of Kwéyòl in the Classroom
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For the majority of St Lucians English is not a first language. Instead, most have oral competence at varying degrees in a creole English variety or Kwéyòl or both. Those dynamics are replicated in our classrooms in that the majority of students begin their formal schooling with oral competence in Kwéyòl or English Creole. However, they are expected almost immediately to function in and develop literacy skills in another language (Standard English). It is no surprise then that performance in English remains unsatisfactory in our schools, if not lamentable. Hence, the following questions loom:
Can we expect to develop literacy skills without an awareness of this language situation?
Can we expect students to learn one language with confidence, when the one(s) they know are routinely bastardized?
Can we bridge the gap between reality and practice, teaching our children in their Mother tongue?