ILS Colloquium


19 September 2019
15:30 - 17:00
Academiegebouw, Domplein 28, Belle van Zuylenzaal

Ellen-Petra Kester

Community based research in language policy and planning: the language of instruction in education in Sint Eustatius

Utrecht University

I will present the results of a year-long action research project on language and education in Statia (St. Eustatius), one of the islands of the Dutch Caribbean.

Most of the students on the island speak English and an English-lexifier Creole, but even though most of them encounter hardly any Dutch outside of the classroom, at school Dutch is used as the language of instruction,.  This has effectively limited to a small minority the numbers of students who succeed at school — the others are left behind.

The educational authorities in both Statia and the European Netherlands approached a research group to deal with the question of the language of instruction in 2012. The team adopted a community-based approach that actively involved all of the stakeholders in the education system of the island in identifying, analyzing, and finding solutions to the problem at hand. This approach was complemented with a a survey, classroom observations, in depth interviews, a narrative proficiency test and a literature review.

I will present the activities and results of the research project, as well as the recommendations made by the team. The government is now in the process of changing the language of instruction.