Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Conquer English before leaping to Spanish

Published:Monday | June 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The prime minister seems to make utterances without checking or consulting with those knowledgeable or educated. Prime Minister Holness' call to make Spanish a second language sounds idiotic.

First, many students in high school are not proficient in English language. While English was handed to us by the colonisers, it continues to baffle many whose first language is our Creole. The prime minister needs to get first-hand information on the exceedingly poor use of English, especially in non-traditional high schools and some inner-city Kingston high schools.

I can tell him there are so many challenges as students' grasp of grammar and meaning is pathetic. It is not alarming to discover that at grade 11, some of these children would laugh if asked to give meanings for the word 'bank'. Their upbringing would only alert them to a bank being used in financial circles.

It is, therefore, preposterous for Andrew Holness to think of Spanish becoming a second language. His desire is noble, but impractical and unlikely to succeed. What the island's schools can do is to improve the methodology and facilities so that students can study Spanish in a more structured way.

I do not think making Spanish a second language would work in my lifetime. Spanish is a great language, and which all of us should learn. Spanish, however, will be always in the back alleys of important languages because our people are still grappling between the bipolar English/ Patois.