The students who enroll in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program at York University are required to study a language spoken in the region other than English to obtain a graduate degree. While the university offered Spanish, French and Portuguese, students questioned why Creole wasn’t offered as well. In response to their questions, Dr. Michele Johnson, who was born in Jamaica and who coordinates the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program at York, contacted Hubert Devonish, head of the University of the West Indies Mona Jamaican Language Unit to find out if anyone there would like to design a Jamaican Patois Creole course to be used by York students. He chose Clive Forrester, a graduate student at UWI who was teaching linguistics courses there as well as academic writing at the University of Technology. Forrester, who had planned to stay just one year in Canada, designed an introductory course for students to teach them basic skills. The course was so successful that he decided to return for a second year. After a third year of success, Forrester applied for permanent residency and suggested an additional that involves a summer in Jamaica learning about the language and culture. Because there is a severe shortage of qualified interpreters of Jamaican patois in the province, Forrester is now considering a blended program to correct this situation that could be delivered via the Internet and through face-to-face instruction. The lack of patois interpreters has had a negative impact on Jamaicans in the legal system. York is the only academic institution outside Jamaica that offers courses in Jamaican Creole.
This video was made by the students in a class taught by Professor Clive Forrester at York University in Toronto, Canada. It serves to educate the public on Jamaican Creole.