Here’s how I see things…
If you are learning a second language, the best way to do so is to immerse yourself in the language. Many recommend actually living in the country in which the language is spoken. But if you pocket bruk (like mine) you can opt to find an alternative in your own country which must include conversations in that language for a prolonged period of time. The acknowledgement that this is a second language that, therefore, is subjected to different rules also puts you in the frame of mind for studying and learning this language well.
The problem is that English Language is being treated like the first language in Jamaica, when it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t because the students that typically fail this subject grew up speaking and listening to Jamaican Patois. They are constantly exposed to this dialect and use it as the primary method of oral and written conversation (text messages, Facebook and Twitter) between friends.
But when they go to English class, it is assumed that Standard English is the first language of these students and they are taught in this manner. Once they leave that classroom, it is back to their native tongue. An even worse assumption is the one made by the students themselves that English is their main language. They think this because it what they are told but it is evidently not so. This thought gives them the mentality that English doesn’t have to be studied the way they would study other subjects.
Additionally, teachers of other subjects treat English as an isolated case to be handled only by English teachers. When marking essays and papers, they often choose to avoid grammatical and spelling errors (expect in severe cases), and focus on the subject matter at hand. While it’s debatable if this is a wrong approach, it’s certainly not helping.
So unless we choose to enforce English Language in all facets of a child’s social and academic life (like my prep school did), we can expect the problem of low grades to continue for a long time forward.
What are your thoughts on this matter?