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La langue Créole : outil de dépanage à l’école

«L’utilisation de la langue créole doit être partie prenante de notre système d’éducation et de l’enseignement » to convey a message and to teach, since it is a language understood by all. But it is advisable to avoid using it as a medium of instruction in school because it will be at the expense of English and French languages which are already in bad shape - « sa tiboute Français je conne, Anglais je me debrouille » will evaporate like snow under the sun in the years to come. It is not the medium of instruction in Kreol which will give a boost to the performance of the students in their studies. On the contrary, it will deliver a sad blow to the linguistic department and sound the death knell of English and French. The usage of Kreol as medium of instruction will definitely downgrade the performance of the students at language level. It is not the usage of Kreol in school which will improve the performance of the students and incite them to learn. It is their approach to their studies which has to be changed along with a sustained interest and a purposeful application to their studies.

I wonder if we are not the only country in the world where we are at ease in these two international languages - English and French. Our official language is English. Our media are in French. And this is what makes our pride when we travel abroad. There are not many countries in the world where people understand and speak these two international languages as we do. So we should keep it up. We must do everything to promote these two languages, and school can play a key role for their promotion. « Le Créole est notre langue insulaire. » Can we speak that language outside the country? So where is the fun of deepening our knowledge of it!

An English Literature class cannot and should not be conducted in Kreol. To do justice to the subject, the class has to be carried out as far as possible in English because the questions, be they oral or written, will have to be answered in English. So the logic has to be respected. But the teacher in front of the class is like the captain of a ship. He should know how to steer his class, using all the means at his disposal to make the learners grasp the message of his teaching. In this respect all the means justify the end, ranging from simple English, even coming down to the French and Kreol level simply to make the class understand what is being taught to them. French and Kreol can be used a « tin-opener » when all the means in English and French have failed. A little anecdote will not be irrelevant here. It underlines how at times these « tin-openers » can help when all other means have been used.

One day, I was doing an English Literature class in Form III on Animal Farm. Those who have read the book know the bitter rivalry between the two pig leaders - Snowball and Napoleon - since they took over the farm from Mr. Jones. I was explaining how Snowball had closeted himself in his study shed where he was drawing a plan on the floor for a windmill which, according to him, would bring a lot of advantages to the animals in terms of comfort and labour-saving. As usual, Napoleon was against the building of the windmill, arguing that such a project was sheer waste of time. While all the other animals popped in to have a look at the plan, and at the same time to give their support to Snowball, only Napoleon stayed aloof to show his opposition to the windmill. One day, however, he showed up unexpectedly to examine the plan. He walked heavily round the shed, looked closely at every detail of the plan and sniffed at it once or twice, then suddenly he lifted his hind leg, urinated over the plan and walked out without uttering a word.

Recourse to the « Tin-Opener »

What Napoleon had done demanded an immediate reaction from the class. Instead, there was a deathly hush. It was clear that the students had not understood what Napoleon had done before leaving the shed. As a teacher, I had to bring home to them what had happened. I asked the class: « Do you know what Napoleon had done before he left the shed? » It was obvious that they had not understood the word « urinated », otherwise they would have reacted. I simplified the word « urinate ». I said that Napoleon had passed urine over the plan, but still no response from the class. I decided to use a language with which they are more familiar -  the French. I told them that - « Napoleon a uriné sur le plan avant de partir. »  When I noticed that the reaction was still zero in spite of the French expression, I resolved to have recourse to the « tin-opener » - Kreol. «I told them that « Napoleon inn pis lor plan Snowball avan li ale.» There was an instantaneous reaction. The whole class burst into peals of laughter. It was then that they understood what Napoleon had done.

So the inclusion of Kreol in our system of education is simply a part of the teaching process, «un outil indispensable pour dépanner le prof dans sa pédagogie.»

Raj Paneken

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