The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Video about Haitian Creole

This video is a short overview of the science and data that show why children’s native languages are necessary for learning how to read. In the case of Haiti, Haitian Creole (“Kreyòl”), as the native language of all Haitians, should be the cornerstone of literacy projects.

In the first part of this video, Prof. Stanislas Dehaene at the Collège de France provides an overview of findings from neuroscience about “pillars” in the human brain that help us learn how to read. In the second part of he video, Michel DeGraff analyzes the implications of these findings for Haiti, especially regarding how Haitian children are learning (or not learning) how to read. One conclusion is that Kreyòl is an indispensable tool for learning to read in Haiti, though it is, by and large, not used as such, with most children being taught in a language that they do not know, namely French. Such efforts to teach Haitian children in French are, by and large, unsuccessful—-unsurprisingly so, given the neuroscience that is explained in this video.