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The Result of Pushing Patwa
April 23, 2017
2
Always Late; Living on Jamaica Time_The Award Ceremony; and How Soon Come Works

Many years ago, during the debate, I spoke to maintain English as our language, and keep patwa as a slang.  It is lucky they didn’t send out for two sticks and three nails.

I warned the public what would happen, but no one who would be effected listened.

I specify that ‘no one who would be effected’, for there were and are Jamaicans who would not be effected.  This was and is, and will be, the Upper Class.

In all nations one will find an Upper Class.   They speak a ‘known’ language.    Whether it is French in Haiti or Spanish in Chile, or English in Jamaica, they set themselves and their children on a path to success.

They will be able to travel, to do business with Western nations,  and be successful.   They will maintain their position, falling no lower than the Upper Middle Class at the worst, because they can speak a known language.

The reason for the push to Patwa was not ‘nationalism’.   It was the fact that in the 1970s the University was Free.   And to get in was merit and merit alone.   Applicants who were born and grew in the worst places who had gone to school, who had worked hard, who could read, write, and speak perfect English, were given places. The spoiled darlings of the richest areas who did not score as high, did not gain places.

The shock of the owner of the mansion learning her darling did not gain a place, and the son of the woman who cleaned the toilet did resulted in the push to insure that this never happened again.   That never again would the commoner surpass the elite.

It was not enforced on the poor, they embraced it proudly.   They were enthusiastic about Patwa, and raced to swallow it and eschew English.

This meant, of course, they would not gain places at University.  This meant, of course, that they could not rise above menial, for they could not speak English.

Those, of the upper class could easily travel to America or England or Canada and fit into a society where they spoke the language.   Those of the lower class had a hard road to follow for who would hire anyone who could not understand simple instructions in English?

Things reached the most embarrassing level in the 1990s when a deal was negotiated to bring forty thousand jobs to Jamaica in call centres.   Unfortunately, there were not forty thousand Jamaicans who were unemployed who could speak English.

Those jobs went to Trinidad and to Barbados, because English is spoken in public.   There were forty thousand people who could fill those positions in other islands.

In Jamaica, translators are required, and in many of the investments made by the Chinese they bring their own staff because there are not enough English speakers in Jamaica to do even simple tasks.

If one tells a Jamaican, “Avoid connections on the pillar as they are active…”   a Jamaican will not comprehend. One can tell a Chinese employee in Chinese not to touch it and he will understand.

In the professions, even though one virtually scraps under the barrel to find females to be trained as nurses, the fact is the majority doesn’t understand English.   The few that do will be head hunted by Western nations which often do not have enough applicants for nursing school, as it is not well respected.

In Jamaica, the level of nursing is so poor that entering a hospital here is more dangerous than a field hospital in a war zone.    Developing infections, some life threating, losing limbs because of sheer neglect, is common.

The fact is, that with nurses so ignorant of proper sanitation, one can’t expect better.

This is just one aspect of the inability to speak English.  The fact that simple things are not comprehended.

The point of language is that if you don’t have the words you can not describe and control your world.   You can not think of what you can not describe.

For example, suppose you have a small bucket of water in your hand and you swing it around in a wide circle like a fan the water won’t fall out.   Even though the  bucket will be upside down, the force of the spin will keep the water in the bottom of the bucket.  This is angular momentum.

If you know about angular momentum you will understand the principles of physics.  If you don’t know the laws then you won’t understand why it happens, and can’t understand how to extend the principle to other things, and know that if a descending elevator stops too short too fast people will slam into the ceiling.

This example is what happens when you don’t have words for events or ideas and so you can’t think of them. A Jamaica, with the limitations of patwa can not translate terms or idea into the clarity necessary.  So where an English speaker can say; “John arrived shortly after Brian departed, and within five minutes we heard the gun shots…”  a Patwa speaker would say, “John did deh dere. Brian did deh deh but him gone when me hear gun shot…”

So that one would not understand the time limit, which could effect the guilty/innocence of John.

The example I give is far clearer than in real life.

The fact is that many Jamaicans do not understand English today and have destroyed themselves.   They have been unable to gain jobs, unable to communicate with non-Jamaicans, and even stumble when they speak to each other, because there is no precision.

That is because a pidgeon, such as patwa is not a language.

 

 

 

To Teach Kids How To Write Is Just Let Them Read And Write
March 22, 2017
2
LB-let the kids write and read

I just finished reading an article with the title “The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar“. I agree with what the author said, students learn more from simply writing and reading.

 

My eldest son is already 8 years old and he is supposed to be a second grader. I have not really spend time teaching him how to read and write yet, hence I am searching online for how Waldorf schools teach the students to read and write, then I came across this article.

 

I agree that we need to teach the kids how to write grammatically by letting them write, instead of just giving them the traditional grammar lessons. I do not know how native English speakers learn English or grammar, but as English is my second language, I was struggling in learning English when I was in school. I like English since I was young, and I think this is because I went to a kindergarten where encouraged the children to read and the teachers told us stories, instead of we just sat down there and listened to the lessons. It was an English speaking kindergarten where everyone has to speak English there, and the teachers were friendly. I guess that is why I like English.

 

When I was in primary school, we started to have English lessons by having grammar lessons and memorizing the vocabularies, but not by reading and writing. So, I was one of the people that the author mentioned that kept thinking of whether the sentence is grammatically correct, instead of enjoyed writing or expressing myself. As I did not get to read more English books or articles, I merely remembered the grammar lessons I learned and the limited vocabularies I could remember to write any essays. The worse is, I actually translated it from my native language in my mind and wrote down on paper in English. I always wanted to improve my English when I was in high school, and I just kept memorizing the vocabularies and reminding myself about the grammar. That was the way what I knew about learning English.

 

Until I went to college and met some English speaking friends, they told me how they learned English was via reading, reading and reading. They did not even know about grammar, what noun or verb is, but they could just write a beautiful article in no time and give a wonderful speech with confidence. Then I realized how I learned my native language, Chinese. I did not really learn how to write, but I just wrote. I did not care whether my grammar was correct and I did not memorize the vocabularies too. I just read many Chinese books, and always converse in Chinese, and that is why I can write and speak. It is habit of reading and listening, and just keep writing and speaking.

 

I started not to translate my sentence from Chinese to English when I learned to go online, chatted more with others in English and read more English articles. The more I read, the more I write, the more I listen, I do not even remember since when I can just write in English, without translating from Chinese. Though there are still a lot for me to learn and improve, I am happy I can at least just write and express myself, without keep worrying about the grammars and vocabularies.

 

This is also what I want to teach my kids – not to learn the grammar, not to memorize the vocabularies, but to enjoy reading and writing.

 

How did you start learning English? What do you suggest kids in learning how to write?

 

Image credit: Pixabay

 

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English Only? Why Not Learning a Language Can Hurt You.
January 30, 2017
8
Teachers

 

It’s time to learn a language.

It's time to learn a language.

No, this is not a political article so do not bother to debate me on this. I find that this expression is a strong point for why learning another language can be to your advantage. I was born in the USA in the city of New York. I came from Hispanic Descent. My parents are from Puerto Rico and had settled in the United States for 20 years.  In our house, we spoke two languages–Spanish and English. I butchered the Spanish language, mixing it with English. I, later, found out that I was not the only one. Many like me spoke Spanglish (A mixture of English and Spanish).

My parents, later, adapted to English only so that I would not get confused. After living in the States for 13 years, my father moved the family to Puerto Rico to get me out of the streets of New York City. Puerto Rico, even though, is a commonwealth of the United States, is a place where Spanish is the more predominant of the languages. (English is the second official language)   Bearing this in mind, my father took me aside and told me to forget English for a while. The priority was learning to read, write and comprehend the Spanish language.

My mother, bless her heart, gave me a crash course in the Spanish language. Now, I had an advantage—I understood it but I could not read nor write it. After many hours for about two weeks, I was reading and writing in Spanish. Spanish is not a difficult language to learn. The words are simple and if you are in an atmosphere where Spanish is spoken, you can pick it up in a very short time. So, I adjusted to learning how to speak two languages—English and Spanish. After 8 years of living in Puerto Rico, I joined the US Navy, moved to the States and served for 4 years. During that time, I got married, finished my tour of duty and settled in Virginia.

 

The Advantage of Learning Another Language.

 

Learning how to speak another language has benefited me. Working in a few different companies, I would handle the Spanish customers concerns. Doing that made me feel good about myself. Recently, the US government has adopted English only. While I can understand the concept of English being the official language, as a one who comes from Hispanic descent, I have mixed feelings.  Businesses, in order to make a profit, realize that the Hispanic Market is a profitable one. Why alienate them because of English only?  They have money and they want to take advantage of the free market. Also, as a minister, when I was working in a Spanish church, that has helped me in the sense that we gave them a helping hand. I have to admit, I would encourage my former Hispanic church members to learn English and gave them some classes in my free time.

 

You Can Learn Another Language.

 

Why is it important to learn another language? Scientific research have found that learning a language can benefit the brain. Another reason is that it opens doors in the social and economic areas. The global economy is a huge market in the business world and learning two or three languages can help bring clients to any business. My cousins moved to Montreal, Canada and they had to learn French. They, already, knew Spanish and English but when their father moved to that area, they had to make a few adjustments. Learning a third language was easy because they were children. Years later, when they applied to the workplace, their pay was better because they knew three languages. Many would say that learning a language is difficult but it does not have to be.

Others would reason that it costs a lot of money but I got good news, you can learn another language for free. In this blessed age of technology, there is an app called Duolingo. When you download it, you can learn a language and have fun doing it. I am, presently, taking French lessons. I do not take too much time on learning it but the app will work with you. Just 5 to 10 minutes daily with simple exercises and you would be amazed at how you can pick up some words. It is entertaining and can be addictive. So, do yourself a favor, download that app. Have some fun and learn a language. It might open doors for you in the future.

There is Nothing like Having Full Mastery Over English
November 19, 2016
7
There is Nothing like Having Full Mastery Over English_‘’Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary’’ - A Great Dictionary - Review

Be it those who have English as their first language or those who have had a good exposure to English it is the same story. It is the constant exposure to this English is the only way this language can be mastered.  I have seen those whose English is their first language making countless grammar and spelling mistakes in their writings.

English is a funny language is all what I can say. It took me to those lines that  Amitabh Bachhan uttered in the movie ‘Namak Hallal’

“I can Talk English,I can walk English,I can Laugh English because English is a very Funny Language.Bhairo becomes Baron and Baron becomes Bhairo because there mind’s are very Narrow………”

There is never an end to the confused situations one encounters when understanding the English language. I for one am sure there is no logic to so much of what we come across in our day to day interaction involving this language. I am happy though and surprised at my fluency despite all the puzzles that face me every day. I am sure there will be others too sharing my platform. My secret is to constantly listen to and read.  I like the BBC  telvsion where I get to listen to perfect English. Keeping a dictionary at hand is yet another way. Nowadays we have this facility online too.

But if you think that you are an exception and understand perfectly what lies before you when it comes to the English language I would be happy to know what logic is involved in coining up certain words. I give you just two examples

  1. Sweetbread. I hope you know what sweetbread means but I really do not know what is so sweet or where does the bread come from.
  2. Breadfruit – Here again Breadfruit is not a fruit but a vegetable. It does not taste like bread. I want to know why it is called breadfruit.

I can think of so many others like ‘cocktail’ – that’s for some other time.

 

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oxford_Advanced_Learner%27s_Dictionary_of_Current_English.jpg

How to Use Positive Approach to Learning English
book-How to Use Positive Approach to Learning English

Majority children find that learning English language is a daunting task if they are studying in non-English medium school.

In our country, there are 3 types of primary school for parents to decide which school to enroll their child at age 7.

  • Sekolah Kebangsaan ( government school- fully subsidized by the government, embracing Malay language for all subjects, except English)
  • Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina ( Chinese government schoo, partially subsidized by the government and the parents of the pupils, embracing Chinese language for all subjetcs , except Bahasa Malaysia and Englishl)
  • International school ( private school, non-government school, embarcing English language)

 

Malay language is the 1st language, a compulsory subject that every school in the country had to include in lessons which make English as the 2nd language.

 

Since English is the 2nd language, it is not a compulsory language to be spoken in school, the negative approach of learning English is huge enough to drive away the pupils from speaking, reading and writing due to lack of encouragement from the teachers and parents.

 

Writing an essay on school holiday trips or a picnic trip to the waterfall was difficult since we had not experience of these trips.

 

It was not easy to concoct a false school holiday trip without a wild imagination or copy and paste from my school mate’s best essay.

 

Hence, if you desire your child to approach learning English in the positive way, parents should lead the way, provide a helping hand with these tips:

 

#1- Get Involve

-If your family is going on a school holiday trip to Malacca, ask your child to do some research on interesting places to visit or places to have fun.

 

-When you are planning to book a hotel, ask for your child’s opinion whether he prefers a hotel with swimming pool, with or without breakfast buffet, single or queen size bed to share with siblings.

 

-Get the kids involve with every planning for the trip.

 

-During the holiday trip, give your child the opportunity to place orders with the waiter of a restaurant, pay money to the supermarket cashier, ask for help from the receptionist of the hotel.

 

-With these experience, your child is able to write an essay on his feelings, how he did those tasks and elaborate his excitement with good vocabulary.

 

#2- Ask questions

 

Some children are quiet in nature, had the habitual way to answer questions in one or two words which stopped parents from asking further

 

For example:

Your family had dinner at a restaurant.

You asked him which meal he wanted to order and his answer was “Anything”.

Did he like the food served here, his answer was “OK”

His answers are consistent, one word, short and uncertain.

 

-Keep asking your child another question but do not irritate him when he started to show frustration.

 

–Which part of the food served that he likes and Why

-Which beverage he likes and Why

-Which food he dislike and Why

-From his answers, you are able to understand deeper his opinion, his preference on different food flavor and his disappointment or enjoyment in dining out or at home.

 

-Engage conversation with your child will give him confidence and a positive approach in learning new words, usage of proper vocabulary, description of food and feelings.

 

 

#3- Read books

-Always set a good example infront of your children because they imitate every step you take.

-Do not expect your child to read an enclopedia while you don’t even read it yourself.

-Do not instruct your to go into his bedroom to read a book because he had spent too much time surfing online while you are still siiting infron tof your laptop.

-Instead, spend some time with your child to read an encyclopedia, books of 4000 words or guess the crossword puzzle together.

-Look up for those words that are unknown to you and your child in the online dictionary or search at Google Image to enhance your child’s knowledge.

-Take him to the bookshop or local library on weekends, let him choose the books that he wanted to read. Do not rush him.

-Everytime my son and I visit the local bookshop, we would spent at least 2-3 hours of reading time which we valued very much.

-You don’t have to spend money on purchasing books.

-Most bookshops allow customers to read for FREE but you have to take care of the books and magazine which are for sale.

-Reading books help us to approach learning English in a wonderful and enjoyable manner.

-Comic books which are related to Science, History and Arts aid your children in widening thier knowledge and vocabulary proficiency.

 

 

Conclusion

My son reads “Plant VS Zombie 2” comic books which were related to Dinosaurs, History (the famous people who created telephone, aeroplane,etc) and Science ( why do people snore, sneeze, etc)

 

Comic books are educational books if you choose the right category.

 

Remember that not all comic books are bad influence to children.

 

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