JIS News

At a time when mastery of Standard English continues to be a problem among Jamaican children, a group of teachers is devising strategies to improve the students’ competence.
The National Association of Teachers of English (NATE) used its annual general meeting, at the Caenwood Centre in Kingston on Friday (October 30), to discuss the ‘Effective Teaching of Grammar’.
The group identified some of the factors which pose a challenge to students mastering the language, and suggested ways in which these obstacles could be overcome. Among the factors identified were; classroom sizes, contact hours, Americanisms and societal influences.
Publications Editor for NATE and retired teacher, Peter Maxwell, noted that many Jamaicans have a negative attitude towards spoken English, which discourages children from speaking Standard English. He added that sometimes the media, public speakers and teachers themselves set a bad example for students, and suggested that schools should introduce ‘grammar policemen’.

Head of Functional Education at the Primary Level in the Ministry of Education’s Core Curriculum Unit, Herma Meade (left), and President of the National Association of Teachers of English (NATE), Junette Grandison, having a discussion ahead of the start of NATE’s annual general meeting at the Caenwood Centre, Kingston, Friday (October 30).

“Unfortunately some of the posters and so on that are used in schools, you look on it and you see all kinds of grammatical errors, spelling errors that kind of thing; now we need to watch out for that. We need to have grammar policemen in the schools. Some member of staff that will look and make sure that nothing is on the walls that will set a bad example,” he explained.
Mr. Maxwell also suggested that departmental collaboration and cluster workshops would help teachers of English to come together to share ideas and come up with better ways for teaching the language. He also stressed that reading and dictionary use should be encouraged among students.
The teachers were also taken through exercises they could use in the classrooms to effectively teach problem topics.
Head of Functional Education at the Primary Level in the Ministry of Education’s Core Curriculum Unit, Herma Meade, praised NATE for its work in trying to improve the teaching of English in schools. She noted that if students were to have good overall performances in school, then their competence in English had to be addressed.

Teachers purchase books from the Carlong Publishers’ table, at the annual general meeting of the National Association of Teachers of English (NATE) at the Caenwood Centre, Kingston Friday (October 30). The publisher was one of several which had displays at the meeting held under the theme ‘Effective Teaching of Grammar’.

“Language is a tool which enhances learning in all the other subject areas; so if our children are failing in language, we know they will fail in all the other subject areas,” she stated.
NATE is an independent non-profit organisation run by an elected committee of English teachers. It brings teachers together to share problems, suggestions and solutions, and is open to teachers, tertiary level students and others interested in teaching English.

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