The Head of English Department of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Mr. David Dankwa-Apawu, has said the use of pidgin language by students does affect their academic performance in school.
Speaking in an interview with GIJ Online, Mr. Dankwa-Apawu disclosed that both pidgin language and the usage of SMS did affect the use of English language by students within the academic setting.
According to him, not withstanding, pidgin language was “a functional language and came to perform a particular function; and it has come to stay.”
“I don’t think it is necessary for anybody to be so fuggy about Pidgin English and its eradication because it is unique. You can’t eradicate pidgin. It has its own place; its own dignity. You can’t take it from the users. Those who use pidgin benefit from it; they know why they use it. If it doesn’t serve them well they would stop speaking it,” he said.
He added that there were different varieties of English language with some being “according to class.”
“You realize that people who are highly educated, speak English language in a different way compared to those who come from let’s say the low class. So those varieties exist,” he disclosed.
“What I think could be done, for anyone who wants to be a good communicator, is to find position on any variety that would subscribe to your purpose. For me, if it serves your purpose subscribe to as many as possible. So when you speak English, speak it so well. When you have to break from formal activities and have a conversation for instance with your friends, you can equally speak pidgin and speak it so well. And that is what we call the poly model. Whichever variety you lay hands on, speak it as it should be,” he added.
He further added that, there was “no point in making that conclusive point that if you speak Pidgin English you would be a bad speaker of English.”
“We should not think that these are mutually exclusive. No. You can speak pidgin very well and could speak standard English very well. It is not like if you speak standard English, you can’t speak pidgin very well nor if you speak pidgin very well, you can’t speak standard English very well. The human mind or human brain is wide such that you can take language on equal level if you have the proficiency, blessing or gift to do that,” he stressed.
The use of SMS
According to Mr. Dankwa-Apawu, the use of short hand messages among people did not only serve a purpose but also was for identification.
“If I want to communicate with young people, how do I identify myself with them and not pose as someone who is higher or more educated or someone who does not belong? Sometimes, the essence of language is belonging,” he said.
He advised students to know that language was functional and therefore the onus was on them to know which one to use at the appropriate time and setting.
“In the classroom, within the academic context of a classroom and other businesses or academic endeavors, we have chosen one medium of communication and that is English language. In the classroom, in writing and speaking and so on we have chosen English language and that cannot be violated,” he added.
BY: Lawretta Selorm Bensah (Level 300 Journalism A)