Is it really English vs patois? Maybe, maybe not. I’m not as informed as the academics, but I’m still allowed to have an opinion. My two cents: we have a problem; no question about that. I think it’s mainly two things: a lot of shoddy teachers of English and students who don’t read. Students have two problems with the English Language:
1. They can’t speak it properly and
2. They have an issue writing it.
But they don’t have a problem understanding it ( as far as I see). You become better at writing English by reading English, I don’t see anybody talking about that. Students aren’t reading and that’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Students will get better at speaking English if they hear English being spoken more often-immersing themselves in the language, which is where I don’t understand how teaching them English in Patois is going to work.
I know we’re working on standardising patois, but it’s extremely hard to read. It’s also very dynamic – new words are seemingly created monthly via the Dancehall genre.
I’m not against teaching students English with patois, but I’m also not for it. I’m mostly neutral right now. But the status quo isn’t working so a change needs to happen, I’m just not sure how teaching students in patois is going to work, but research has been done and I’d love to know more. If you’re more informed than me, shed some light in the comments section.
English A is offered at the CSEC level on EduFocal 1 We collect data on every student’s performance and I’ll be more than willing to share this data with the Ministry in a few months (not an individual student, in aggregate). When you’re testing students electronically nothing is missed, so those results will be interesting to analyse.