This kit was first conceived in 1992 when the need for a resource supporting tutors of Caribbean learners became obvious at ALFA. Around this time, staff realized that many of the frustrations expressed by tutors working with learners of Caribbean heritage arose from a lack of awareness about the roots and nuances of Caribbean languages and cultures, and how this makes it necessary to do things differently.
We, at ALFA, believe that this awareness is especially important when teaching reading and writing. The majority of our learners are of Caribbean heritage while most of our tutors are of European heritage. Language reflects who we are, where we come from, and what we value. The language we speak reflects the different ways in which we understand and define the world around us. It also influences the way we read and write. A knowledge of the history, language varieties and oral traditions of the Caribbean is the first step towards addressing frustrations caused by unacknowledged differences.
This kit is intended to provide necessary background information to tutors working with learners of Caribbean heritage. It will provoke a lot of thought and discussion around the issue of language. Hopefully, it will challenge our understanding of the role of language in the lives of the learners with whom we work. At the very least, it will educate us all to value the concepts at the root of Caribbean oral tradition.
As a follow up to this kit, ALFA hopes to set up a participatory research project to further explore this subject. This project will include following the progress of learners and documenting techniques used by tutors to address particular challenges. Meanwhile, we hope that you enjoy this kit and that you learn as much as we did while working on it.
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