Learning To Speak Creole

November 16, 2022

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Today, I am thinking of my friend Bill who is a true educator with a love of learning. He has been both a teacher and principal. When he went to Haiti in June 1999, I saw how a true lover of learning works.

Bill did not know Creole when he went to Haiti but he sought out a student, spent hours developing a relationship and learned to speak Creole. He used the most basic technique – building relationships, having conversations and writing down words phonetically.

Many people have a natural gift of language, but Bill was like me – needing to see the written word first. By writing words phonetically and then speaking the words with a Creole speaker, he communicated very well during his short time in Haiti.

I can still see Bill sitting on a cement block with Kanjo or walking in the fields and pointing to an object and saying, “Ki sa?”  (What is this?).

Bill would repeat the words back to Kanjo and there would be much laughing. He would then write the words down in his notebook using the phonetic spelling. What fun this was for both Bill and Kanjo!

On my early trips to Haiti, I did the same thing with a two and a half year-old who taught me so much.

Today, online language learning is available in many forms but I doubt anything will replace this classic relational method.

by Linda Markee, HFH Founder Emerita

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