Language Education and Bahamian Students' Compositions

Michelle Veronica Bain


The teaching of Standard English (SE) composition in the Bahamas is not without its challenges in the context of the sociolinguistic situation. Many Bahamian students' Standard English compositions exhibit "interference" from vernacular Bahamian, either Bahamian English Creole or Bahamian Dialect. In this study, I attempt to clarify issues of Creole/dialect interference in the Standard English writing of college-based English compositions providing some linguistic explanations for many of the so-called "errors of grammar" in the compositions of Bahamian students.

In order to fulfill the linguistic needs of all Bahamian students and to ensure greater success in Standard English performance in the Bahamian public schools, I propose that language educators consider TESD - Teaching English as a Second or Other Dialect -- for the Bahamian context. However, TESD would dictate a re-examination of our present language education methodologies and our linguistic assumptions about the acquisition of Standard English conventions by the Bahamian school age population.

Moreover, I attempt to answer two major questions about the frequency and distribution patterns of the "errors of grammar" and non-standard features recurrent in students' expository compositions. I also explore possible linguistic factors that can account for such distribution. Furthermore, by analyzing specific samples of college-based compositions from The College of The Bahamas, my preliminary results indicate considerable levels of linguistic interference from vernacular Bahamian, especially within the SE lexicon.

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