“On Being an Immigrant: The Paradoxes and Advantages of a Multilingual Immigrant Writer and Multicultural Scholar”

“On Being an Immigrant: The Paradoxes and Advantages of a Multilingual Immigrant Writer and Multicultural Scholar”

The language I speak fluently is Kreyòl (some people prefer calling it “Haitian”), but with a Kapwa (Northern) accent. 😃

The language I write more comfortably in is English.

The language I understand with no hesitation is Kreyòl.

The language I am still trying to understand is French.

The language that will save me in time of trouble is more than one: Kreyòl, English, and French– in that order.

*I never try to be someone else that I am not, and I do not conflict my (primary) identity as a Haitian immigrant–though for many people, the immigrant identity is complex, constantly evolving, and in a state of mutation because of the process of encountering multiple cultures, ethnic groups, languages–living in a country (the U.S.A.) that welcomes me; yet its systems and structures force immigrants like me to assimilate in order to belong, achieve success, and even be recognized as a human being.

*Generally, (Haitian) linguists have proposed different pedagogical and linguistic models to help solve the language crisis in education in Haiti. The first proposal is to teach and educate Haitian school children in Kreyòl only. The second proposal is to find a balance between Kreyòl and French, Haiti’s two official languages, in the education and training of Haitian children. The third model is to improve the linguistic ability and fluency capability of Haitian children in the French language by emphasizing its full acquisition in Haiti’s schools. The final model is to expose Haitian school children to multiple languages, such as Kreyòl (the mother tongue), French, Kreyòl, Spanish, and English, in the acquisition process and linguistic fluency. While each one of the linguistic models and pedagogical approaches has its own advantages and disadvantages, I would suggest to maximize the Kreyòl language and to fully integrate the mother tongue of the Haitian people in schools and institutions in Haiti while not undermining the significance of global languages such as English, French, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Swahili, etc.in the education system in Haiti. Various studies by linguists and second language specialists have demonstrated that children have the ability/capability to learn multiple languages simultaneously. On the other hand, the Haitian education system has many shortcomings. It’s not doing an effective job in educating and training school children even in their maternal language; the education in the French language is not also effective in Haiti.

Happy Saturday, Good People!


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