[lg policy] St. Maarten/St. Martin: Arrindell takes language policy on election campaign trail

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 16 14:33:35 UTC 2010

Rhoda Arrindell takes language policy on election campaign trail

Posted by on Sep 15th, 2010 // No Comment

GREAT BAY, St. Martin (September 14, 2010)—“On the campaign trail, I
am presenting new ideas for a national education policy, with emphasis
on a St. Martin language policy,” says election candidate Rhoda
Arrindell (UP #5).

A 2005 scientific study by Arrindell showed that nearly 65% of the
population in the South or Dutch part of the island “want English as
the language of instruction in the nation’s schools,” said Arrindell.
“A pilot study of teachers shows the same percentage as the general
population,” said Arrindell, who is a linguist and award-winning
educator. Rhoda Arrindell said that she would work with the UP
government, school boards, parents, teachers, related stakeholders, to
develop a modern language policy and a “sound and competitive
education system for St. Martin.” The language policy would include
“Dutch and French as mandatory second-language subjects, starting in
the elementary schools, before children pass what is considered the
critical age of mastering languages,” said Arrindell.

“This would give St. Martin’s children the possibility to learn Dutch
and French in much the same way European children learn English once
they had been exposed to it from early on,” said the language expert.
“There is a difference between ‘language of instruction’ and ‘language
in instruction or education.’ I am amazed that when I explain this to
people they understand,” said Arrindell, “but there are some people,
and sadly some are educators, who should know better but get so angry
and hostile when I talk about these ideas and plans with students,
parents, teachers, and the St. Martin people at large.” “Over 95% of
the world’s experts show that the majority of a country’s children
learn best when they are educated in their mother tongue. The mother
tongue and historic language of St. Martin is English,” said

“This is the reason why English is also an official language in the
territory’s new constitution,” said Arrindell, former language
division head of the University of St. Martin. Arrindell is contesting
the Friday, September 17 legislative election here.
“I am not favoring one colonial language over another. What we are
looking at is the historical reality of English in St. Martin and to
the extent that it will make us as a nation and our young people as
students, far more successful.” “Furthermore, it will make our
education system more competitive to prepare our people to assume full
responsibility in an independent St. Martin. In this regard, it also
showed courage and far-sighted leadership and when Theo Heyliger stood
up and said in the debate on Sunday that he was proud to have voted
for independence,” said Arrindell.

Another feature that Rhoda Arrindell’s language policy proposal would
“respect, encourage, and integrate is heritage languages as subjects –
just like how geography, social studies, science, music, math, and
sports are subjects in the schools.”
“A heritage language gives especially parents the option to have their
St. Martin children learn a language that may be part of their
parents’ or grandparents’ heritage.” “In that way, whether at school
as an elective or optional subject, from private language institutes,
or tutors, a St. Martin child could, and would have the right, to
learn Haitian (Creole), Papiamento, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Yoruba,
Chinese or Hebrew as their heritage language, or even just because as
St. Martiners we love languages. Mind you, this is learning language
as a subject, not as the language of instruction,” said Arrindell.

Arrindell is a PhD candidate at the University of Puerto Rico and has
just submitted her completed doctoral dissertation. Interestingly, her
committee chair is Dr. Mervin Alleyne, one of the world’s leading
language and Creole authorities.
“In my new study, I am looking at language and culture in St. Martin
and how they impact on identity,” said Arrindell.
“And again, I went to the population in a professional and democratic
way, in 2009 and 2010, interviewed a wide cross section, to be able to
put in that study and to analyze what the St. Martin people are
thinking and doing when it comes to how they identify themselves in
this nation of ours,” said Arrindell. This will be the first such
scientific study carried out in St. Martin, and her second major
language-related study, said Rhoda Arrindell.

“As far as a national education policy goes, some key signs of that
new study can be interpreted to show that English as the language of
instruction will serve as a unifying and progressive force for the St.
Martin people,” said Arrindell.

-- http://www.caribbeandailynews.com/rhoda-arrindell-takes-language-policy-on-election-campaign-trail/
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