You may have noticed that most Saint Lucians do not converse in English as they go about their everyday life. The ‘mother tongue’ or Lang Mama of Saint Lucia is a language called Kwéyòl and if you’d like to learn how to palé kon jan Sent Lisi (speak like a local), Marylin Hyacinth can help you with that!
Marylin has a long history of teaching Kwéyòl and her relaxed teaching style eases away nerves for those who might not feel too confident learning the local language. Using a combination of conversation, easy grammatical lessons, reading, singing (yes, she’s a great singer too) and writing, you will soon find yourself able to understand and hold simple conversations. But if you need or want to go further, Marylin can also teach an average Kwéyòl speaker, formal grammar, writing and correct speech. So whatever your level and goals, she’ll be able to help get your to where you want to be.
Classes are arranged according to needs and one-on-one or group sessions of various sizes with are possible. Kids classes, Business classes or just for fun classes – tout sa sé posib! (all of that is possible!)
Marylin has a wide range of experience in teaching, translating and conducting workshops on the Kwéyòl language. Her students have included individuals interested in improving understanding and conversation, foreign volunteers seeking basic Kwéyòl conversation skills during their work-stay in Saint Lucia as well as professionals – especially media – wishing to speak and report in Kwéyòl fluently.
About Marylin Hyacinth
In 1995 Marylin attained a Degree in Linguistics, Creole Option with Universite Des Antilles in Martinique. She has worked with the Folk Research Centre for over ten years as Librarian / Documentarist and is still presently involved extensively in work to preserve the Kwéyòl language, it’s integrity in spoken and written Kwéyòl, as well as encouraging appreciation and use of the language.
She is also actively involved in preservation and promotion of Saint Lucian culture. Marylin has also worked as Kwéyòl Information Assistant with the Government Information Service (GIS) presenting programmes and news in Kwéyòl and anchoring in Kwéyòl at various government events.
“For me, the Kwéyòl language brings vigour and energy to life, and I enjoy teaching and transmitting it, as the soul of the Kwéyòl culture. What I have found in teaching the language is that initially, people’s impression is that it is not a structured language and so they need not take it seriously. However, by the time we begin talking and exploring the language, a love, appreciation and respect for the language develops and this brings me much satisfaction, in particular when students are able to understand and participate in conversations. For me the Kwéyòl Language is a language of the heart and expresses our ‘Saint Lucian-ness.’
I love meeting with our older citizens who speak the Kwéyòl as their first and sometimes only language, as they share stories about St Lucia and its history. I also use Kwéyòl in my work of evangelization as I travel throughout the rural areas of the island.
And you know, the Kwéyòl people have a medicinal herb for all kinds of ailments and sickness that one may have, and this is an area of great interest for me as I try to live the legacy of my mum through my kitchen garden.”
Kwéyol, the ‘mother tongue’ of most Saint Lucians, the Folk Research Centre (Plas Wisach Foklo) advises,
“There are several theories about the origins and development of but it is widely accepted that ‘evolved out of the need for Europeans, Africans and Amerindians to communicate in a language that was mutually accepted by and common to most’ (Jn Pierre, 1993:8). It is dominated by a French-based lexicon although its grammar and ‘the way it gives meaning to words and phrases’ (FRC, 1992) is significantly influenced by West African languages”.
It is considered by some, as a language of protest, hence why it can often sound aggressive. But it is also a language that reflects much more of the cultural story of the island – humour, beliefs, morals and ethics and can be expressed in ways where English doesn’t convey the sentiments so well. You may often hear someone respond “you can’t translate that” when asked to interpret a joke or story.
Saint Lucian Kwéyol can be understood by speakers of Kwéyòl in other countries around the world, however, each island or country that speaks Kwéyòl has their own distinct variations. For some time, speaking Kwéyol was frowned upon as rough/rude/uneducated and so many people in the more urban areas, grew up with some understanding, but little practice speaking. Nowadays it is not only widely spoken but is enjoying a renaissance as locals choose Kwéyòl as their preferred language for cultural and creative expression as well as for informal conversation and it is widely used in politics.
1 758 488 5646 / 1 758 452 9178
Traditional Folk Songs of Saint Lucia
Lucian Kwéyòl Dictionary
Do you still teach classes? Can you do the classes virtually? How much for a class of 3 people, twice a week?
Finola Jennings Clark says
I’ve spoken with the teacher and she’s happy to do online classes. Would you like a class just for the 3, or would you mind others joining? And are you complete beginner, or do you have some knowledge?
I wouldn’t mind joining a class! I would not be a complete beginner. I would put myself at an intermediate level (b1 approaching b2 or intermediate low). Please let me know about the availability. firstname.lastname@example.org
I too would be interested in learning Saint Lucian creole. I’m based in the Uk but there are no classes available here. I am a complete beginner.
Finola Jennings Clark says
Hi Jen, thanks – we didn’t manage to get a class going, but there is an online class here https://epayment.salcc.edu.lc/ecommerce/products/short-courses
Also, follow kweyolsentlisi on Instagram – Jason has excellent lessons on there