Queens Public Library Central Branch

Queens Public Library is offering free 7-week Haitian Creole course at the central branch in Jamaica, Queens. The course, taught by Wynnie Lamour, founder of the Haitian Creole Language Institute, is open to those with little or no prior knowledge of the language and will focus grammer, phonetics and language structure.

“Teaching Haitian Creole at the Queens Public Library has been incredibly fulfilling and a reminder of how rewarding it is to provide language services to local community members,” Lamour said.

“My life’s work is dedicated to providing a space centered around all things Haitian Creole. It’s easy to forget that the way a language is viewed is often the way the people who speak that language are viewed. I want to shift the negative stereotypes that exist around Kreyòl Ayisyen because I know that in turn it means shifting the negative stereotypes around Haitian people. Being a language advocate is work that needs to be done that I am proud to say that I do.”

Lamour has a bachelors in linguistics from Cornell University and a masters in Urban Affairs from CUNY Queens College. She has spent the last several years teaching Haitian Creole in the New York City area to a variety of language learners, including nonprofit professionals, public school teachers, and entrepreneurs. Her teaching philosophy is rooted in the concepts of community, connectedness, pride, and respect for the Haitian language and culture.

Participants will work on speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension in the context of the Haitian culture. Core concepts of grammar, phonetics, and other aspects of language structure will be covered. At the end of the course, participants will be able to conduct simple conversations and write at the basic level in Kreyòl.

Queens Public Library serves the most ethnically diverse county in the United States and in order to meet the needs of various communities they offer a number of foreign language classes, including Spanish, French, Chinese and Russian. In recent years however, they noticed a growing need to add Haitian Creole classes to their offerings, as the library continues to serve the Haitian-American communities  in Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, and Jamaica.

“Many Haitians who came to the U.S. at a very young age as well as the second generation of Haitian Americans want to learn the language of their parents and grandparents and reconnect with their culture,” said Jean Rene, Principal Librarian at the QPL’s Programming and Outreach Department. “They have been looking for such classes and the library has been able to fulfill their need.”

The course is also meant for those who work with the Haitian community, travel to Haiti or do humanitarian work there, as well as those whose family members, e.g. spouses and in-laws, are Haitian.

“While searching for an instructor, we have learned about Winny Lamour’s unique experience teaching Haitian Creole to local communities and her approach rooted in the concepts of the Haitian culture. She is a perfect fit and Queens Public Library is thrilled to work with her on this series of classes.”

The 1.5 hour classes will be held on Thursdays, from May 9 to June 20 (6:30 to 8 pm) at the Central Library Teen Space Meeting Room (89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica).

Space is limited. Those interested in attending can register here.

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