THE EDITOR, Sir:
As the debates rage on about finding a solution to remedy the retardation of our children from being able to master the English language, it appears to me that what is needed right now is for a general consensus to be arrived at; and that consensus is the use of the Jamaican Creole, the first language of the populace, to teach the English language.
I will confess that I was very hesitant to embrace this idea, but having listened to linguistics professor Hubert Devonish and also having read his many publications on the topic, I am now convinced that we need to give careful consideration to his proposal.
Professor Devonish has clearly articulated his thesis by citing many examples of other countries using their indigenous language as their official language, and by using it to teach, have been able to master the English language - and with fluency.
However, his suggestion has not got wide support in many quarters, including the academia. Sad to say, many intellectuals and influential persons, and even some of us who are not academically inclined, still hold strongly that the Jamaican Creole/Patwa is nothing but hogwash.
Many are ignorantly holding on to their opinions that Patwa should be left where it is - that is, in the streets, in the homes of those of the lower socio-economic strata. And I think that this sentiment has always been the case from the days of slavery; right through the colonial period; into Independence, and up to this day.
But have we ever stopped to ask ourselves the question - why after over 175 years since the abolition of slavery, and 50 years since we have gained political Independence - we are still without a language? When the language that is spoken by more than, I assume, 90 per cent of the populace is been scoffed at?
Why are we fooling ourselves that we are speakers of the English language? Seldom can one be in any public space and hear a conversation that is not being spoken in the Jamaican Creole/Patwa or being laced with the vernacular.
I have had reason to visit the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear almost every conversation being held in the Jamaican Creole/Patwa.
Put it where it belongs - in the classroom!
Ensom City, Spanish Town