Challenges of language education policy development and implementation in creole-speaking contexts: The case of Jamaica

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Language education policy development and implementation in contexts where Creoles are spoken by the majority of the population and a European language is the official language has been fraught with challenges dating back to the colonial period. Specifically, policies in these contexts historically sought to educate the populace to “speak a language they don’t write, and write a language they don’t speak,” as Jamaican performance poet Mutabaruka so eloquently put it (cited in Cooper, 2010). This situation has led to generations of Creole speakers’ underperforming academically in school while often internalizing conflicting linguistic identities that don’t match their language practices. One such Creole-speaking context is the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica, a former British colony, where English is the official language and language of education, but Jamaican Creole (JC) is the mass vernacular. In this chapter, I discuss Jamaica as an illustrative case of the challenges of language education policy development and implementation in a Creole-speaking environment in the postcolonial era. The discussion is based upon a critical ethnographic study 1 of the Jamaican language education policy developed by the Ministry of Education (MOE, 2001) and linguists from the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica. I draw on tenets of linguistic imperialism (Phillipson, 1992) and postcolonial theory (Bhabha, 1994; Hall, 1994) to contextualize the study and analyze the findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGlobal Perspectives on Language Education Policies
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781351610018
ISBN (Print)9781138090811
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this