Use Patois to teach English- Pinnock
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
DR ASBURN Pinnock, the principal of the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College in St James, is calling for English language to be taught as a second language, arguing that such a move would improve the pass rate for the subject in the island's schools.
Pinnock made the call while addressing last Friday's St James Central Constituency and Jamaica Awareness Association of California Education summit, which was hosted at the University of the West Indies, Western Jamaica campus, under the theme: 'Empowered by Knowledge: Obstacles to Education in Jamaica'.
"We must adopt a new approach to teaching English language," said Pinnock. "It is the general assumption that everybody knows the English language and that we all can speak and write it. So the teaching is done from that perspective and it is showing in the poor results that we are getting."
The educator suggested that students be allowed to vocalise their ideas and answers in Patois and then be asked to translate it to English to ensure that they, in fact, are learning.
"We understand that English is the official language of commerce and academia, but it is a grave error to try to use English to replace the mother tongue when trying to teach the language," continued Pinnock.
"It is what is being done in many instances. So, if a child gives the answer in the mother tongue, the teacher should request a translation to assist him or her with the English."
In seeking to strengthen his point, Pinnock made reference to Belize where, despite English being listed as the official language, Spanish is more widely spoken and used in many instances in school.
While noting that there is no guarantee of immediate results, the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College head said it was something worth trying in pursuit of helping children to learn, which should ultimately yield better exam scores.