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The Kanak are New Caledonia's autochthonous people. They fail tragically in French schools. In 1977, out of 241 students who graduated from high school, only 5.8% were Kanak. Nickel discovery led to a stupendous economic boom, which left the Kanak behind until 1988. In her doctoral dissertation, the author showed in 1990 that the cause of failure at school among Pacific Islanders, including the Kanak population, is the transition from their nonwritten native language to a written teaching language.
TRAN Ngoc-Anh's native language is Vietnamese, a six-tone monosyllabic language, which shaped the way she perceived the world. TRAN Ngoc-Anh has taught French as a Foreign Language, French as Teaching Language, and Sociolinguistics in Asia, in New Caledonia, in Europe and in the United States.