JIS News

‘Valuing Caribbean Languages’ a project aimed at bringing awareness and understanding of Jamaican patois and other Caribbean languages to mainstream United Kingdom, has received the European Award for Languages.
It was among a number of other language projects in Europe to receive the prestigious honour, which is awarded by the National Centre for Languages. According to chief judge Brian Page, the winning projects were “truly inspiring,” both in their ambition and the value they placed on languages. “These are among the best language projects in Europe and set the standard to which others can aspire,” he stated.
Developed by Jamaica 2K, a Wolverhampton-based community development organization, the aim of the project is ultimately to ensure that speakers of Jamaican patois and other Caribbean languages in the UK receive the services and support they need.
Among its primary objectives are: to clarify the range and diversity of Caribbean languages spoken; address the difficulties faces by speakers of Jamaican patois and other Caribbean languages in the UK; set up a training programme for teachers and others to understand the relationship between Jamaican and standard English; and to pilot and get accreditation for a Jamaican language and culture programme that would prepare potential applicants for a Diploma in Public Services Interpreting (DPSI).
“Basically, we offer interpreting for the health, legal and education systems and to do that you need a qualification”, said Project Coordinator Liz Millman.She informs that, “we are actively working to provide that qualification and we are working with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Professor Hubert Devenish of the Jamaican Language Unit is supporting us to develop how this course will run and the training of the persons to run the course”.
Jamaica 2K Chairman, Stephen Brooks said the project emerged out of concern that many Jamaicans, especially students, were being penalised because of a lack of understanding of the Jamaican patois and hopes that the project would address this issue.”For many Jamaicans, English is a second language. Jamaican should be recognised as a language so students and others can get the right services instead of being penalised,” he stated.
Natalie Fagan, a teacher with the project, told JIS News that the Jamaican language and culture course was important as a lot of Jamaican children were considered aggressive because of a lack of understanding of Jamaican cultural norms and mannerism.
The project benefits from the expertise of professionals from the Institute of Linguists; City College Birmingham; the Association of Jamaican Teachers UK; the UWI; patois speakers in the UK, among other groups and organizations.