Language and Learning in a Post-Colonial Context: A Critical Ethnographic Study in Schools in Haiti, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Language and Learning in a Post-Colonial Context

A Critical Ethnographic Study in Schools in Haiti, 1st Edition

By Marky Jean-Pierre


324 pages | 15 B/W Illus.

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This book explores the social, political, and historical forces that mediate language ideology and practices in post-colonial education and how such ideology and practices influence students’ academic achievement. Jean-Pierre provides empirical evidence that a relationship exists between language practices and school underperformance.

He takes Haiti as the focus of study, finding that students and teachers experience difficulty constructing knowledge in a setting in which the language they speak at home (Creole) differs from the language of instruction (French). The research is based on ethnographic data collected in classrooms in both private and public school settings in addition to different sectors of the society (e.g. state and private institutions).


"Language discrimination, colonialism, and schooling are related forces that together help explain why so many Haitian children fail to learn adequately. These are not, however, language problems as much as they are political problems. In this insightful book, Jean-Pierre Marky explores these issues, along with the impact of devastating social and political events, and natural disasters such as the January 2010 earthquake, on Haiti. Marky suggests that the nation must reinvent its school system to honor the cultural and linguistic strengths of the population in order to promote the educational and social well-being of Haiti’s children. Drawing on diverse disciplines including history, sociology, political science, anthropology, language policy, linguistics, and education, Language and Learning in Post-Colonial Context is both an indictment of the impact of colonialism and neo-colonialism and a call to action to honor children’s home language as a significant approach to remedy the historic miseducation of Haiti’s children."Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita, School of Education at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

"The unequal power relations between French, the inherited language from the colonizer, and Creole, the mother tongue of most Haitians, has been at the center of school reform debates in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora. To this day, however, no empirical study has unpacked so brilliantly and critically this antagonistic linguistic relation and its implications for student learning like Language and Learning in a Post-colonial Context. Educators, sociolinguists, activist-intellectuals, and policy makers interested in understanding the intricacies of the linguistic and cultural effects of colonization on the learning and the mind of students must engage Marky Jean Pierre’s luminous book."Pierre W. Orelus, Assistant Professor, New Mexico State University, USA

"Dr. Marky Jean Pierre makes a profound contribution to the fields of applied linguistics, education, and language policy with this important book. While his work is situated in a close analysis of the education policies and practices of Haiti, the conceptual framework, methods of data collection and analysis, and findings provide valuable insights to any scholar looking for new ways of exploring how macro and micro discursive practices constrain the academic language development of students in post-colonial contexts."Meg Gebhard, Associate Professor, College of Education at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

"It is a rare and tremendously rewarding journey when a book like Marky Jean Pierre’s Language and Learning in a Post-Colonial Context is able to weave together the paths of history, theory, and field research, and lead us towards to a new pedagogical practice—one that decolonizes the mind along the way."Pepi Leistyna, Professor of Applied Linguistics, College of Liberal Arts at University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Part 1: Haiti: Colonial Hierarchies and Language Ideological Legacies in the Building of a Nation 2. Ayiti, Hispaniola, Saint-Doming and then Haiti: A Brief Account of the Colonial History of Haiti 3. From Ideologies about 'Corrupted Language' to Linguistic Research: Unpacking the Past and Present Representations of Creoles and Reconceptualizing Haitian 4. The Trajectory of Language and Education Policies in Haiti, from the Era of Columbus to the Present Part 2: Researching and Theorizing Language in Education in a Post-Colonial Context 5. Language-in-Education in Haiti: Orienting Theories 6. Language-in-Education in Haitian Classrooms: Research Methodology Part 3: Doing Lessons in French and in Haitian, in Two Schools: Texts, Talk and Ways of Knowing 7. Teacher-Dominated Talk in a Third Grade History Lesson at KayPro School 8. "You Don't Know the Lesson": Teacher Talk in a Fourth Grade Geography Lesson at Mango Fil School 9. Discussing the Environment in Haitian in a Third Grade Natural Sciences Lesson at KayPro School: Students' Voices and Positive Teacher Evaluation 10. Considering the Significance of Local Plants in Haitian: A Sixth Grade Lesson at Mango Fil School 11. Dialogic Interactions in Haitian and in French lessons at KayPro School 12. Reciting and Writing from the Textbook: A French-Medium Math Lesson in a Third Grade Classroom at KayPro School 13. Orienting to the Textbook as the Location of Knowledge: A Haitian Language Arts Lesson at Mango Fil School Part 4: Moving Beyond the Workings of Coloniality, Redefining Language and Education Futures 14. Educating or Merely Schooling Haitian Students? 15. Closing Reflections: Redefining Language and Education Futures in Haiti

About the Author

Marky Jean-Pierre is Visiting Assistant Professor of French at Tulane University, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Multilingualism

Routledge Critical Studies in Multilingualism is devoted to the publishing of original research, of global scope and relevance, which incorporates critical and post-structuralist perspectives. The series also seeks to reflect different strands of empirical work which are interpretive, ethnographic and multimodal in nature and which embrace new epistemologies and new research methods.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Bilingual Education
EDUCATION / Curricula
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Sociolinguistics