Creoles in education

Creoles in education: An appraisal of current programs and projects. Ed. by Bettina Migge, Isabelle Léglise, and Angela Bartens. (Creole language library 36.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2010. Pp. vii,356. ISBN 9789027252630. $49.95.

Reviewed by Don E. Walicek, University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras

This book surveys projects that use creole languages in education. The initiatives documented are situated in terms of sociolinguistic context, language ideologies, educational policy, and future goals. Most of the discussions analyze curriculum, teaching, and current challenges.

In Ch. 1 the editors survey the sociohistorical and political issues traditionally hindering the pedagogical use of creole languages. The editors also comment on factors that have encouraged the integration of these varieties. They include a fourteen-step roadmap for establishing and maintaining effective programs.

In the next chapter, Christina Higgins describes Da Pidgin Coup, a group working to raise awareness about Pidgin in Hawai’i and discusses efforts to counter and transform negative language attitudes. In the following chapter, Eeva Sippola discusses three Chabacono (Philippine Creole Spanish) projects, comparing an extra-institutional grassroots program in Cavite with two others.

The focus shifts to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in Ch. 4. Mirna Bolus explains that France instituted competitive qualifying examinations for teachers of Creole (a medium of instruction in Guadeloupe) in 2001. The documentation of projects in French overseas departments continues with Bettina Migge and Isabelle Léglise’s insightful description and assessment of three programs in French Guiana, noting resources they provide and obstacles they face.

The use of Kriol in the schools of Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast is the focus of Arja Koskinen’s Ch. 6. Written by Karen Carpenter and Hubert Devonish, the next chapter evaluates a bilingual education program involving Jamaican Creole and English. In both cases, preliminary results attest to the effectiveness of the fully bilingual approach.

Next, Hazel Simmons-McDonald reviews the language situation in St. Lucia and describes a bilingual instructional pilot program in English and French Creole. In Ch. 9, Jo-Anne S. Ferreira describes programs and materials involving Kheuól, the mother tongue of the indigenous Karipúna and Galibi-Marwono of northern Brazil. The author suggests that future language preservation initiatives should directly address the needs of specific groups.

The survey continues with Marta Dijkhoff and Joyce Pereira’s work on Papiamentu’s historical trajectory as a language in the educational systems of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. Next, Marlyse Baptista, Inês Brito, and Saídu Bangura describe the use of Cape Verdean in education as a linguistic and human right, documenting language attitudes, orthographic conventions, and dialectal variation. Finally, Ronald C. Morren describes the linguistic situation on three Colombian islands where an English-lexifier Creole is spoken: San Andres, Providence, and Santa Catalina. The chapter discusses a primary school trilingual project involving Creole, Standard English, and Spanish.

This inspiring and highly informative volume has much to offer readers and policy makers. It brings linguistics to life by making timely and empirically-supported arguments about the importance of creole languages. What contribution could be more valuable than improving such a basic element of the educational opportunities of creole-speaking youth?