Issues of Bilingual Education in the Caribbean: The Cases of Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago

  • Youssef V
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The language situations in the Caribbean have long posed challenges for language education and, despite a number of enlightened proposals for bilingual education (cf. most recently Craig (1999)), none have been implemented on a large scale. A major challenge has been the low status of the Creole languages and societal unwillingness to admit these languages into the classroom. In Haiti, 90% of the population remains monolingual in a basilectal Creole; individually teachers informally accommodate the Creole, but French remains the languages of 'enlightenment' and learning, excluding the majority. In anglophone Creole territories like Trinidad, lip service is also paid to valorising the Creole, but the reality is a mixed language classroom without clear cut-off points being made between the varieties. This paper reviews the current situations and the potential for bilingual programmes in Haiti and in Trinidad, bringing out major differences between the language situations in the two. It suggests ways by which bilingual programmes may be implemented in Haiti and the ensuing benefits. In contrast, it shows why bilingual programmes are not likely to be implemented in Trinidad, what is being done to alleviate the problems, and how the situation is likely to evolve.

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  • Valerie Youssef

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