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Caribbean Journal of Education

Bringing Language Awareness into the High School Curriculum: The Opportunities Offered by CAPE Communication Studies

Publication Date: 
September 2007

The introduction of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), which has taken the place of the A-level examinations set by and for British institutions, was a logical step in the process of decolonization of educational practices in the officially English-speaking Caribbean. It also offered an opportunity to base curricular and examination practices in local realities. The CAPE syllabus for “Communication Studies'' very clearly aims to do so. Designed in large part by West Indian linguists, it is formed by a thorough understanding of the vernacular language situations of the Caribbean. In addition to more general goals with regard to various aspects of communication practices, the curriculum is designed to assist students to develop insights into the linguistic contexts of the Caribbean—including contexts which may be different from their own. Thus, some Caribbean contexts may show more distance between vernacular and standard than others (compare Jamaica/Trinidad/Barbados, which can be considered to represent a cline in this regard). Moreover, in some contexts, the vernacular has a different lexical base than the standard (e.g., Portuguese/Spanish-lexified Papiamentu in Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, or French Creole in officially English-speaking St. Lucia-although its use is increasingly restricted to rural communities).

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