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New plan to sustain Jèrriais

07 June 2017

​Two new Jèrriais teachers are to be appointed as part of a plan to sustain the Island’s historic minority language.

The plan, which was developed by the Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture Department (EDTSC), the Don Balleine Trust and the Education Department, has been endorsed by the Council of Ministers. Funding of up to £110,000 agreed by the Treasury and Resources Minister from central contingencies in 2018 and 2019. 

EDTSC has agreed to provide up to £50,000 in 2017 to allow the teachers to be appointed as soon as possible.

Assistant EDTSC Minister with responsibility for culture, Deputy Murray Norton, said “Without a proper commitment from the States, Jèrriais will simply die out. To lose a language which has its roots in our Norman past would greatly damage our culture and erode a part of what makes Jersey such a special place.

“The plan is partly about ensuring that we have sufficient teachers to pass on the language but it’s also about supporting use of Jèrriais in the wider community and giving it greater visibility in daily life.

“I am delighted that my Department has been able to work with colleagues at Education and with the Don Balleine Trust to recognise the importance of Jèrriais and to set out, for the first time, a clear approach to raising its profile in the Island.”

Last year, the Education Department recruited two fully-qualified teachers to learn the language and help pass it on to future generations. One was funded by EDTSC and the other by the Chief Minister’s Department.

Education Minister, Deputy Rod Bryans, said “We are pleased to be able to support our colleagues at EDTSC with the education aspect of the Jèrriais plan. It will create continuity to ensure that our children have an experience and understanding of our Island’s unique language and culture.”

These two new posts will bring the number of Jèrriais teachers in schools up to four. They will be learning Jèrriais with the current staff of l’Office du Jèrriais, established by the Don Balleine Trust, with support from the States, 18 years ago. The Trust will then continue to have responsibility for promoting Jèrriais in the community, working with Jersey’s other heritage organisations to develop opportunities for adults.

Opportunities in schools as a result of the new appointments will include

  • a weekly lesson in Years 4, 5 and 6 for those children wanting to learn Jèrriais
  • after-school classes
  • two hours of Jèrriais a week for those want to continue to learn at secondary school
  • an intensive reception pilot project in one primary school

The Jèrriais Plan, which States Members requested during a debate on Jèrriais for the Medium Term Financial Plan last year, reflects a recent resurgence of interest in the language. 

It follows the launch of a community project to record native speakers of the language spearheaded by two academics from the UK – Dr Mari Jones from Cambridge University and Dr Julia Sallabank from the University of London.

Deputy Norton paid tribute to their work in supporting Jèrriais. He said “We have been very fortunate in the development of the Jèrriais Plan to benefit from the advice and support not only of passionate advocates within the Island but also Dr Mari Jones and Dr Julia Sallabank, whose interest has helped raise awareness of a vital aspect of our culture.” 

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