A comparison of approaches to the teaching of English in two sociolinguistic environments (Jamaica and London, U.K.)
The purpose of this study is to investigate teachers' thinking and delivery of English to students who have a Jamaican Creole background, in two very different but historically related environments, namely Jamaica and London. The research base consists of 18 individual participants and one focus group from 4 schools in Jamaica, and 17 participants from 5 schools and one language centre in London. Using interviews, observations and historical inquiry, the study compares the views of teachers, in these two settings, about the aim and method of, and the influences on, their teaching of English. The study draws on the principles of critical ethnography, to allow the investigation to get at the views and practices of the participants, and how they are constructed. An autobiographical chapter is introduced at the beginning to acknowledge the clear personal boundaries which inform the work and to make the researcher's position clear. Additionally, the result of the historical inquiry in the two settings is offered as part of the interpretative background, adding information about the participants, the situation from which they came, and the forces which have helped to form their professional beliefs. An analysis of the data gathered in Jamaica and in London reveal that although the differences in the attitude to grammar were not a major distinction there are differences in the approach to teaching English. A number of correspondences are found in the aims and methods of teaching. Larger differences are revealed in attitudes towards English and towards schooling. The interpretation of the differences and similarities between the settings reveals that the construction of consent presented a useful way of understanding the classrooms. The importance of linguistic markers of agreement and of the psycho-cultural processes involved in the making of the teacher are foregrounded. Conclusions drawn from this comparative study offer some insight into how we can better understand these two sets of language classrooms. These conclusions might be particularly relevant to understanding the perceptions of parents and adult learners in the London setting who have a Caribbean background.