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black boy reading

As an avid reader who is the son of avid readers I am disturbed by the decline in reading among young people. Well, let’s be honest, young men. It’s a fact that in centuries past the world of literature, used to be viewed as part of a mainly male profession.

The irony in today’s Dominican society, is that what was once seen as a male thing — namely reading — is viewed by today’s generation as the opposite. Boys today don’t read, just like they don’t cry.

In secondary schools all over the island, reading is viewed as “uncool.” But what’s worse, for some boys it is almost a condemnation against their masculinity. Books, of any kind, are foreign objects. They contain information, maybe some pictures, but they dare not been seen to contain that most catholic of qualities: pleasure.

Some all-boys schools have been forced to make the study of English language and literature compulsory; sensing that if given the choice, students would rather study other things like additional computers and mathematics. The freedom of critical thought, the challenging of world perspectives and the beauty of the written word contained in books are not enough to counter the taboo associations books now have. Books are for girls.

This attitude coalesces with a more general problem of male under-achievement, is an observable fact which has rotted our secondary school institutions from the inside out. Boys, in addition to not reading, apparently do not and are not meant to study. The result speaks for itself: girls today by far out-match boys in terms of academic and verbal excellence. Boys are relegated to an illiterate and unambitious ghetto, and are encouraged to stay there.

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textingPhoto by kamshots

INTERESTING READ: A new study published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology contradicts these thoughts and claims texting could have beneficial effects on children’s language skills. I’ve heard of studies that suggest texting could lead to the deterioration of English skills in children. Some teachers will even tell you they’ve seen text lingo such as shortenings, contractions, acronyms, symbols, and non-conventional spellings appear in homework assignments.

The study considered 88 children between the ages of 10 to 12. During the study, children were asked to generate text messages that described 10 different scenarios. From the study, children who texted regularly showed a richer vocabulary and were better equipped to express their thoughts in writing. In most cases, these children were also aware of the proper spelling of the words they were shortening. Through the course of the study, the children were also given traditional schoolwork. Here again, the students who texted regularly showed an edge.

According to Dr. Beverley Plester, the lead author of the report and senior lecturer at Coventry University, “The alarm in the media is based on selected anecdotes but actually when we look for examples of text speak in essays we don’t seem to find very many.” Plester goes on to say texting can help children since it exposes them to a variety of words. She also suggests the more exposure a person has to the written word, the more literate that person will become.

This isn’t the first study that suggests benefits of texting or instant messaging. Studies from the University of Toronto have also shown a positive effect on teenagers’ command of language as a result of instant messaging use.

What do you think, can texting and instant messaging improve kids’ language skills? Share your opinion in the comments.

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A number of people, including my friends who live abroad ask me about life in Dominica. So today, I’m going to share with you a little about me, my home – Dominica, and some insightful information that might be useful to you when you do decide to Visit Dominica.

A Little About Me and Dominica

While I was born in Guadeloupe, I spent most of my life here on Dominica. It’s a fairly small tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, gained it’s independence in 1978 from England, a very catholic but highly politically motivated island.

I spent most of my childhood here, and have lived here my entire adult life. Both my mom and dad are 100% Dominicans. My mom lived most of her childhood years in Antigua, and then returned. My dad grew up in a small village called Newtown (charlotteville), which is just on the outskirts of the Capital city Roseau. Dominica is my home, the only home I’ve ever known.

While I’m thinking of moving to Canada or New Zealand in the near future – but Dominica will be my final resting place, I imagine. While not all of the 70,000 people here know each other, we are fairly close-knit community. If you happen to meet someone you don’t know, most of the times it only takes a few minutes to find type of connection – either you are related to them somehow, or they know one of your family members, your neighbor is their good friend or something like that.

I love Dominica and its people, although I don’t love everything about the island. We have our problems like anywhere else — we have government corruption sometimes, but have mostly honest government workers. We have problems with potholes and trash sometimes, but usually things run fine. There is a lot of trash and things that can be cleaned up and stray dogs in some areas, but above all the natural beauty of the island shines through. It can be very hot and humid here at times, but mostly it’s just stunningly beautiful weather in the 70s and 80s and sometimes 90s.

Nature Isle of Dominica

Think of Dominica as a little slice of Heaven 🙂 , but Island-style. Dominica is not like most the other islands, with huge malls and fast food restaurants (we have few of them, but not all), and Internet access practically everywhere. We have roads and power and British-style schools and everyone speaks English (though you will find some people speaking in a Creole dialect). And while we don’t vote for president, we are democratic and as patriotic as any other Caribbean island.

We are much very Caribbean in many ways, we’re also not in others. We have a lot French and Catholic traditions, for example. We celebrate Catholic holidays, and village feasts all the time, and many people speak Kwèyòl, a blend of our native language and French. We are very family oriented, but in a much extended family way, including not only second and third cousins and more, but a very extensive system of godparents and godmother.

More than just being French influenced, we are native islanders. We have a long tradition of being connected to the sea, of being connected to the land, of being very tribal in many ways through the Carib Indians who still live on the island to this date.

And so we are none of these things completely — French, Spanish,Carib, islander — but all of them at once. We are a changing community, from the more traditional elders to the more modern youngsters, with their Nintendo DS and MySpace and texting cell phones and Wiis and XBoxes.

I could actually write about Dominica for days, but I’ll stop here and answer any questions you have in the comments. In the meantime, if you to want learn more about Dominica, you can visit – not too long along the Discover Dominica Authority which is apart ministry of Tourism launched a new marketing campaign and website for the island. Anyway, go over there and take a look, if you’re interested in more about Dominica. It’s a great resource that will continue to grow in the years to come.

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