Lead with Haitian Creole
Why Learn Haitian Creole?
More than 10 million people in Haiti speak the Haitian Creole language. Haitian Creole is also spoken throughout the Caribbean basin and in the United States, Canada and France. After English and Spanish, Haitian Creole is the third most commonly spoken language in Florida. Over 400,000 Haitian Creole speakers live in the Sunshine State, many in major cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa.
The mastery of Haitian Creole language skills is essential for anyone who wants to work in Haiti or the Haitian community. It is the one language that binds all Haitians together. The French language is also important in Haiti and the 5% of the population that speaks it fluently tends to come from the social and economic elite. Nevertheless, 100% of the Haitian population speaks Creole and the proponents of the Creole movement are making major strides to advance the status of the great unifying language of Haitian society, Kreyòl Ayisyen.
In places like Florida, Haiti or New York, employers are looking for individuals with Haitian Creole language skills. Individuals with Haitian Creole skills stand out for positions in professions like health care, social research, counseling, engineering, administration, construction, education, management, law, interpreting, public service, and business.
The study of Haitian Creole also provides students with direct access to the people of Haiti and the genius of Haitian culture, arts, cuisine, style, history, society, religions, philosophies, and knowledge.
Adapted from the University of Florida, Haitian Creole Studies
Be sure to speak with your school counselor or advisor, and also to search for opportunities local to your state or region, including specific universities of interest. In addition to federal and other awards available for language studies or experiences abroad, nationally available scholarships include:
The Haitian Studies Association (HSA) offers two annual scholarships of $500 each toward travel and accommodation expenses for attending an HSA conference and/or presenting a specific research project concerning Haiti or the Haitian diaspora.
This $1,000 award by the National Alliance for the Advancement of Haitian Professionals (NAAHP) provides financial support for Haitian and Haitian-American students who are incoming freshman, undergraduate, or graduate students across the United States.
Inquire also if your university offers U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for Haitian Creole!
“While in Haiti, language classes, frequent excursions, and public interactions were colossal motivators that fueled my desire to learn Kreyòl. In addition, my community introduced me to the levels of complexity in both verbal and nonverbal communication.”
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Specialist Jeremy completed an internship at a Haitian university, the Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti (ESIH). He credits the experience with having an important impact on his future career decisions.
Programs & Additional Resources
Interested in kick-starting your adventure at home or abroad? These are just a few of the many programs available to you at the university level! Check out:
- The Creole Institute – Indiana University
- Haitian Creole Language and Culture Summer Institute – University of Massachusetts Boston
- Haitian Creole Summer Programs 2019 – Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP)
- Haitian Summer Institute – Florida International University
- Kreyòl in Durham & Duke (online resource)
Interested in Learning Haitian Creole? Read On!
In an op-ed originally for The Haitian Times, educator and founder of the Haitian Creole Language Institute of New York Wynnie Lamour explains how the Haitian Creole language can act as a cultural bridge.
A profile of MIT linguist Michel DeGraff, whose work includes research on Haitian Creole, that also explores historical perspectives on creole languages. Having grown up in Haiti, DeGraff explains that his parents “couldn’t quite believe that my research on Haitian Creole was part of a paid job at MIT. This is the language I was not supposed to be speaking. Now they understand it’s my life’s work.”
Do You Lead with Haitian Creole?
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