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JIS News

The City College Birmingham in the United Kingdom (UK), through its Community Languages department, will be offering a free ten-week evening course on ‘Understanding Jamaican Patois’ for persons seeking to become certified patois interpreters. The course starts on Wednesday, March 9 and successful participants will receive an Open College Network level two certificate, which will enable them to progress to the one-year diploma course in Public Service Interpreting, which is a formally recognized qualification from the Institute of Linguistics.
By offering the course, the aim is to clear up some of the misunderstandings about patois while providing the first step for people interested in patois interpretation to gain qualification.
Course Leader is Kingston-born Heather Reid and the lecturers include Jamaicans Anne Morgan, Natalie Fagan and Trudy Frater, who are secondary schools teachers in Birmingham and are part of the Association of Jamaican Teachers in the United Kingdom.
Liz Millman of City College, told JIS News, that the course was designed to enable person who spoke Jamaican patois to become confident in writing the language, so they can move on to the diploma course in interpreting.
Ms. Millman, who has coordinated two conferences on ‘Valuing Caribbean Languages’ in the UK and Jamaica, to highlight some of the legal and educational issues facing Jamaican-language speakers in the UK, noted that there was a real and growing need for such interpreting skills especially in the health and education sectors, where there were great misunderstandings when the patois speaker was not understood.
She said part of the thinking, was to get Jamaican patois accepted as a language and raise the awareness of person in services such as law enforcement, health care and education.
Ms. Millman also told JIS News, of plans to teach persons to speak patois, as there was a lot of interest in this area. “We have great plans and it is a very topical area as there is still a lot of discussion as to whether it (Jamaican patois) is a language”, she said adding that there were many Jamaicans who were seeking to improve their language skills but were placed in basic skills classes, which were not necessarily suitable.
The course, which will be the first of its kind in Britain, is already generating a lot of media attention and supporters say it will help dispel the notion that patois is improper English.