Samoan writer Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao says parents are expecting far too much from teachers, who are underpaid and have far too many students in class.
Speaking at an annual conference for school inspectors and principals, Tunumafono said parents are not carrying out their responsibilities in making their children literate.
Tunumafono, who is also the retired head of the government newspaper, says the best time for a child to learn the language is between the ages of three and five.
He says that is the period when children are solely under the care of their parents, especially their mothers.
Tunumafono says far too many parents are not creating an environment which is conducive to the healthy development of their children, particularly language development.
He says because parents do not carry out their responsibilities, teachers are left with the job of deciding programmes which can cater to different levels of language competency.