Below are excerpted comments from readers of www.jamaica-gleaner.com in response to yesterday's Letter of the Day, 'Rethink language learning'.
I was fortunate to receive my primary and secondary education in the '60s and '70s. What the writer expounded is exactly what was happening in Jamaica during that era. We learnt proper English at school, but were exposed to Patois at home, and the children of that era were quite proficient in both English and Patois.
The difference, however, was that teachers of that era were proficient in speaking and teaching the English language.
Unfortunately, many of today's teachers are not articulate in English and are, therefore, unable to teach it.
- Garfield Anthony
I agree with the overall strategy the writer, Lavinia McClure, suggests. However, the idea that we should be promoting Patois as a language to be "broken down and analysed" makes me cringe. I mean no disrespect to our mother tongue, but it makes far more sense to spend that energy studying another international language like Spanish.
We need to prepare the next generation to compete and engage at both the regional and international levels. Think global!
- Oliver Barrett
Bad attitude to Patois
Of course, the immersion strategy works in Switzerland, but then the Swiss have no biases against their own non-standard language, as many Jamaicans do against their mother tongue. This is what has been crippling our ability to master English: an unhealthy attitude towards our own language.
- Stoney Age
Master english, master others
It is pretty sad when English teachers themselves need to be taught English.
When I was in high school, teachers used to openly chastise and sometimes insult us if we messed up on spelling/dictation and other facets of the English language.
As one teacher so rightly said, if you can master the English language, you are in pretty good standing to successfully learn a romance language like Italian or French, since many English words are derived from these two, among others.
Treat as foreign language
I am a Jamaican teaching English as a second language abroad, and what I agree with is, teaching English as a second or foreign language throws a different spin on learning the language. Don't be fooled, either, that the native speakers are masters of the language. The best teachers at my college are those whose native language is other than English.