TARPON SPRINGS, Fla., June 22, 2015 — The first ever Kreyòl (Haitian Creole) alphabet songs as educational videos have been created and made available online, it was announced today. The groundbreaking project is the result of collaboration between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Linguistics Professor Michel DeGraff and recognized Kreyòl advocate Mandaly Louis-Charles.
The videos’ creation holds both historical and political significance to the country of Haiti. Historically the primary language of school instruction has been French, despite most Haitians speaking only Kreyòl at home and in the community. Nearly 30 years after the language was made official, the newly created alphabet songs are intended for Haitian children to easily and joyfully learn their native language’s official alphabet.
“Imagine a new Haiti where everyone at long last can read and write their native language,” said DeGraff.
DeGraff leads the MIT-Haiti Initiative, a project that was created in response to the destruction of Haitian universities by the 2010 earthquake. The Initiative is using digital technology and open educational resources online, all in Kreyòl, in order to improve science, technology, engineering, and math education, as well as leadership and management in Haiti. The professor is also a founding member of Haiti’s recently created Haitian Creole Academy (Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen) and a member of Haiti’s National Commission for Curricular Reform.
“This is specifically a Haitian song that is well anchored in Haitian culture and will resonate well with Haitian children to enhance their reading skills,” he added.
Louis-Charles created the song’s melody, vocals and harmonies. Bémol Telfort provided the musical accompaniment, playing the congas. DeGraff and Louis-Charles teamed up to create the lyrics and worked with Telfort and animator Robert Capria to produce the videos.
The song’s original video (“Chante Alfabè Kreyòl 1”) inspired a follow-up video (“Chante Alfabè Kreyòl 2”) illustrating the basic principles of the Kreyòl alphabet. Both videos are available for preview via Louis-Charles’ YouTube channel. The complete video of Alfabè Kreyòl 2 is available on Louis-Charles’ Vimeo channel.
The instrumental soundtrack is available via iTunes, Amazon.com, Google Play, CDBaby.com, and Gracenote MusicID. The collaborators will make the song’s musical score available on http://www.sweetcoconuts.blogspot.com this summer.
“I hope both children and adults alike have lots of fun playing and singing along while they learn the Kreyòl spelling system,” said Louis-Charles.