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May 2019
The discussions are fascinating. Most persons if you ask them this question, will say unhesitatingly English. However studies have shown that what was hitherto considered - "Broken English", and commonly referred to as Jamaican Patois, has a set of rules and grammatical structure all its own and is therefore - A LANGUAGE in its own right.
So then - the theory is, thats what we do so badly overall at English in schools, because we are pretending that it is our first language and hence problems in teaching and learning it. The proposal is that we officially recognize Creole as the Jamaican language, and teach English as a second language- we would therefore have a better chance at mastery.

What do you think?????

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The premise is somewhat shortsighted. I can remember going to primary school in the 60's and high school in the 80's and nowhere was there the notion that we were less able to speak English because of our local dialect. English was spoken by our teachers, taught by our teachers all in English. We understood, wrote, sang and communicated in English. Should we be proud of our dialect, undoubtedly so. However, the stark reality is that only Jamaica speaks that dialect. If you do not have mastery of a global language (English) you are dooming the next generation and country to an existence where it cannot survive internationally.

Having the debate is academically healthy but the irony is, the very proponents of patois as the official language are the very same people who grew up speaking English as the first language in the 50's, 60's 70's and 80's. They do not have the problem of not being able to communicate effectively internationally. They do not have the problem of not being able to get a call center job because no one can understand them. So why push patois on the airwaves and in the schools as the 1st language? It is counter productive and not in the best interest of our people and our country.

Let's speak our Jamaican patois as much as we like and with pride. It is beautiful, it is uniquely ours but, let us not trade local comfort and hilarity for strong social, economic and welfare progress, along with full literacy and a fully internationally conversant population.
Good points - I agree that English as the main language spoken around the world, needs to be learned. The theory in question is not promoting the TEACHING of Creole - we don't have to - it is everywhere - we all know it. The angle is that once we accept that whether or not we like it - Creole already IS our first language, it is how most of us speak naturally, and it is spoken on more occasions and in more places in Jamaica than English ever has or ever will be. The theory is that if we then use that as the basis to TEACH English, which, while we need to learn it, is what we learn AFTER we already know patois/Creole, then we will have more success with English.
Acknowledging patios as our first language they say, will smooth the path for English

All languages in their early stages go through a phase before standardization where there are different spoken versions and no written system. Creole is not ready to be taught in any formal manner - and doesn't need to be. The issue is therefore whether or not we publicly ACCEPT that it is.
Question: Does this 'theory' apply to the other islands too? The Trinis, Bajans and Antiguans, don't they speak 'Broken English' too?
I am often asked this question, what language do Jamaicans speak? And I always reply "The Queen's English" is there any other. If one should listen to the queen's english when spoken by a an educated englishman it is wonderful to hear and the language flows and it makes perfect sense. That is the problem I had when I came to America as a teenager and started high school, I struggled with this english language and I couldn't figure out why is my writing or speaking was different from the american english. Well for one thing most of it wasn't "proper english", it was broken, but because I have a foreign accent I sounded as if I was the one who spoke improper english.

We were all taught to speak the english language in Jamaican schools and we should continue that trend. Our dialect of patois is another extension of us as a people that goes back to slavery. Like the queen's english when spoken can be fascinating to someone who is hearing it for the first time. We should embrace it not shun it.
This is just my two cents.
I am a big believer in harnessing & preserving our own uniqueness as a Nation. Broken 'English'/Patois/Creole is by far more widely spoken in jamaica and therefore I consider it to be our first language stemming from the English & African mixed roots. In schools we are taught the "English Language" as a formality - rightly so, since it's the most internationally used language,- but what we speak in everyday life is our beautiful "patwa". We should indeed recognize it as our very own language, and thus our first language, which we should ALSO teach. Wat a sinting if wi do accomplish dat dey feat, eeh?
I think that english is our first language and patois is derived from that. To think that all the different lanuages that our foreparents spoke,and now we speak a common language. The fact that we put our own slant on the english language shows how innovative we as jamicans are. Alton
Jamaica is the largest English speaking country in the Caribbean.
However, we do have a patios. I visited my island while I was among some Jamaican I did not understand a word they said!...
Its our own Jamaican patios. If it is spoken fast it does seem like a foreign language to others!
Now you hear it all over. Back in the 60's and 70's the better educated you were the better your English.
I think we should just have everyone learn well spoken ENGLISH from school and use patios whenever you need to. We can speak two languages but patios alone would isolate us from the rest of the world.


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