Literacy in a Creole context: Teaching Freshman English in Jamaica

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Jamaican Creole-speaking college students find it difficult to switch to Standard English for school-related tasks. At the composition level, many Jamaican students still experience problems with higher-order concerns such as organization, unity, and coherence. With regard to lower-order concerns, three types of writing miscues are prevalent: 1) those linked to the influence of the oral Creole language, 2) those reflecting incomplete mastery of the language of education, and 3) those revealing unfamiliarity with the print code. Even after Jamaican students have mastered the linguistic, alphabetic, and spelling systems of the educational code, cultural patterns are still in constant conflict with those required in academic situations. Creole-speaking students should be taught to code-switch rather than to try to eliminate their native Creole--to conceptualize in their own language before doing so in English. Teachers should provide practical contexts for students to develop proper organizational skills, and extensive exposure to various types of reading materials. Finally, more classroom time should be allotted for writing practice in a workshop atmosphere--writing, revision, editing, and teacher/student conferences should be regular features of the programme


Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, 37th, New Orleans, 13-15 Mar., 1986

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