The Crocodile Prize: More than a literary competition – it’s a learning centre

To promote the Crocodile Prize 2014 competition – see flyer, I have used my own experience in the article below.

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croc flyer 2
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I entered the Crocodile Prize competition in 2010 on the premise I could write and write well. Upon reading other contributors’ work, I immediately realised their superior inherent talents.

They knew how well to use words, and did quite eloquently. As I read their works, words maneuvered seamlessly into beautiful phrases and these phrases began to dance to otherworldly tunes and conjure up memorable images. This is the power of their raw talents. Talents that only thinking people will comprehend their origins.

In short, the quality of work that appeared on PNG Attitude was astounding. I knew right away there is more work to do in order to elevate my writing skills.

Then it dawned on me: Crocodile Prize presented me with a precious mine of literary work I could use to learn. Henceforth, I have been learning whilst contributing my own articles.

It has been more than three years and I must admit I have learnt quite a lot – about both the writers and issues they write on.

Enlightenment from poetry and short stories were spellbinding. Other works offered additional insights into politics, international diplomacy and some social issues I take for granted.

Soon I began to judge the world around me and its goings on with more caution and restrain, sometimes overdoing it.

My awareness level in general has taken a great leap – thanks to the Crocodile Prize, PNG Attitude and all the regular contributors.

Anyway, through Facebook, emails and my blog, I have been promoting this wonderful competition every year to my wantoks in order to arouse interest. Their responses however were not so modest – at least from what I know. Perhaps I am wrong. But only two brilliant individuals I know of have participated so far and their works are published in the Crocodile Anthology.

If everyone takes the competition as a venue to learn and fine tune their writing skills, the organisers will be overwhelmed with entries. But I think paranoia about not writing well because English isn’t their first language discourage many.

Perhaps only a few can see a light of opportunity to learn beaming from the Crocodile Prize Competition, so it will take a lot more to drive this message home. And if this reluctance is any indication, many Papua New Guineans are genuinely reluctant to help improve their apparent incompetence in English.

As a country in a world that is fast embracing the English language as preferred business lingua franca, how will we cope?

Many a time I have read pieces of writings from university graduates and they are always riddled with child like mistakes. Worse, these mistakes are repeated time and again. Even on social media where potentially their friends around the world would read their posts, mistakes are common sight.

Now don’t get me wrong. I also make mistakes. But if a university graduate repeatedly makes the same mistakes, then something somewhere is seriously wrong.

So who is to be blamed: our education system; or graduates’ lack of interest to continue to improve their English writing and speaking skills outside of the classroom environment; or the Papua New Guinea mentality and the way it thrives on ignorance and consequently promotes reckless complacency?

I’d rather blame graduates and their general lack of interest to take English seriously.

Learning English has been my journey and I relish it to a point it sometimes takes up my time for other things and become a nuisance, especially household chores.

As a suggestion, Papua New Guinea should start measuring its progress by levels of improvements in our collective proficiency in English. And also use it to measure how well our schools are doing in educating our children.

This is important as our own languages cannot be used sufficiently and effectively as modes of instructions in schools.

Take me for example: I got through four years of university education through sheer hard work and dedication, without fully understanding many of the concepts taught. And it isn’t because I was dumb. Rather, the language of instruction was English and as I wasn’t good in English, I spent most times trying to understand the words and meaning of instructions and less time on the concepts the words were explaining.

Many students face this problem. And those who cannot cope simply fail their courses.

With this experience, I have advised many I have had the opportunity to converse with. Often telling them to read a lot and of course try writing. And what better place to start then with the Crocodile Prize writing competition which promotes Papua New Guinea writing.

Potentially, the Crocodile Prize competition could teach many students with a keen eye the ways of writing. And with a lot of information being shared, one could learn much thereby increasing one’s own awareness level.

The competition and PNG Attitude has been a revelation to me and I hope others too will come to find its worth.

In ending, the Crocodile Prize is more than a competition – it is a learning centre. So join us now to write and learn.

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About febijefwhispers
I love reading and writing poetry!

2 Responses to The Crocodile Prize: More than a literary competition – it’s a learning centre

  1. Barbara Short says:

    Dear Jeff, You are an amazing writer, obviously gifted when it comes to writing in English! Teaching in PNG for 13 years taught me to “dumb down” my English so all my pupils could understand what I was saying. So it is now a delight to hear a PNG writer writing so fluently in English.

    • Hi Barbara, thank you. It was and still is people like you who ensured many Papua New Guineans understand the importance of speaking and writing in English.

      I think am still struggling to perfect my english…have a long way to go still.

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