4 Responses

  1. Patrick-André Mather
    Patrick-André Mather September 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm |

    The notion that French is a “foreign language” in Haiti is ludicrous. French has been spoken as a first and a second language in Haiti for four centuries, longer in fact than Creole. It is also an official and administrative language used in government, higher education, and in the mass media. Haitians are therefore exposed to French in many ways and, whether you like it or not, this language is an integral part of Haiti’s cultural and linguistic heritage. Citing Bourdieu and Foucault changes nothing to the fact that French is the main lexifier of Haitian Creole, and that many (and yes, most) Haitians do want their children to be fluent in French in addition to Creole. No one questions the usefulness of promoting Haitian Creole as a medium of instruction, for many reasons (pedagogical and cultural among others). But the solution is not French OR Creole, it is French AND Creole, since both are official languages in Haiti. Again, there are many examples (in Canada for example) of countries where children are schooled in 2 or more languages, and are perfectly capable of acquiring native-like proficiency in these languages. The promotion of Haitian need not be at the expense of French, quite the opposite : in recent posts on the Linguist List for example, I have argued that promoting Haitian Creole as a medium of instruction can actually help in the acquisition of French (and other languages). The main challenge is to overcome historical prejudice against the use of Creole, and more recent positions that seek to demonize French as the language of (neo)colonialism. English was also a language of oppression and enslavement for centuries, yet no one is arguing against the use of English in schools in Jamaica or Barbados, as far as I know.

  2. Simon
    Simon May 22, 2011 at 6:51 am |

    Mr. Mather,

    If French is a first and second language in Haiti, how many Haitian who speak French and this includes those who have secondary education?

  3. Haitia guy123
    Haitia guy123 February 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm |

    Do the french still use latin? NO
    so why should we use french. I will admit creole does need a MAJOR orthographic reform but other than that it could be used proficiently in schools

  4. Marcel
    Marcel May 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm |

    Haitia guy123 – of all the major international languages, French is easily the closest to Creole, and much of the country’s infrastructure functions in French, so it makes sense to teach it.

    Creole is the most common language of Haiti, true, but as long as the government and business community use French, being literate in Creole has limited use. I think the bigger issue is the lack of competent teachers. The “total bilingualism” plan mentioned above, with lots of French-speaking teachers being imported, is the best one in my opinion. Unfortunately it’s probably not very realistic.

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