Like many other Americans both inside and outside the educational community, staff at the Center for Applied Linguistics have followed with great interest the recent discussion that was prompted by the resolution on Ebonics from the Oakland, CA School Board. We reprint here in full (see box) the resolution from the Linguistic Society of America regarding the issue, believing that it introduces some much needed professional knowledge into the debate.
In line with CAL's mission to apply the outcomes of research in the linguistic sciences to the educational, social, and cultural issues of our society, CAL staff began research into African American Vernacular English in the late 1960s. Since then, that descriptive information has led to classroom and testing applications.
Public interest in the role of nonstandard dialects in education tapered off in the 70s. However, it was dramatically revived by the Ann Arbor, MI decision in 1979. A lawsuit filed on behalf of 11 African American children charged that the Ann Arbor school district was in violation of federal law for failing to address the language barrier [Vernacular Black English] encountered by the children.
In his ruling, which clearly had taken into account the wealth of expert linguistic testimony presented in the case, Judge C. W. Joiner directed the school district to "identify children speaking 'Black English'...as a home or community language and to use that knowledge in teaching such students how to read standard English." (p. 42, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Civil Action No. 7-71861, U.S. District Court, East District, Detroit, MI).
In 1980, CAL published a collection of papers Reactions to Ann Arbor: Vernacular Black English and Education, edited by M. Whiteman. The papers, originally presented at a one-day seminar in September 1979, provided a brief state of the art overview of the role of nonstandard dialects in education and discussed some of the implications of the Ann Arbor decision.
Five other significant early publications from CAL on Vernacular Black English (as it was then called) are:
Unfortunately, while these publications may happen to be found on library shelves, they are now out of print. However, Baratz and Shuy (1969), Fasold (1972), and Wolfram (1969) are available as reprints from UMI in Ann Arbor, MI (1-313-761-4700).
In the 1990s, CAL staff have developed prototype materials for incorporating dialect awareness into language arts study in the schools. The question of AAVE and adult literacy has added a further dimension to CAL's work. More recent (and available) publications are:
For further information contact Carolyn Temple Adger at CAL (email@example.com).
Resolution on Ebonics
Whereas there has been a great deal of discussion in the media and among the American public about the l8 December l996 decision of the Oakland School Board to recognize the language variety spoken by many African American students and to take it into account in teaching Standard English, the Linguistic Society of America, as a society of scholars engaged in the scientific study of language, hereby resolves to make it known that:
(a) The variety known as "Ebonics," "African American Vernacular English" (AAVE), and "Vernacular Black English" and by other names is systematic and rule-governed like all natural speech varieties. In fact, all human linguistic systems¿spoken, signed, and written¿are fundamentally regular. The systematic and expressive nature of the grammar and pronunciation patterns of the African American vernacular has been established by numerous scientific studies over the past thirty years. Characterizations of Ebonics as "slang," "mutant," " lazy," "defective," "ungrammatical," or "broken English" are incorrect and demeaning.
(b) The distinction between "languages" and "dialects" is usually made more on social and political grounds than on purely linguistic ones. For example, different varieties of Chinese are popularly regarded as "dialects," though their speakers cannot understand each other, but speakers of Swedish and Norwegian, which are regarded as separate "languages," generally understand each other. What is important from a linguistic and educational point of view is not whether AAVE is called a "language" or a "dialect," but rather that its systematicity be recognized.
(c) As affirmed in the LSA Statement of Language Rights (June l996), there are individual and group benefits to maintaining vernacular speech varieties and there are scientific and human advantages to linguistic diversity. For those living in the United States there are also benefits in acquiring Standard English, and resources should be made available to all who aspire to mastery of Standard English. The Oakland School Board's commitment to helping students master Standard English is commendable.
(d) There is evidence from Sweden, the United States, and other countries that speakers of other varieties can be aided in their learning of the standard variety by pedagogical approaches which recognize the legitimacy of the other varieties of a language. From this perspective, the Oakland School Board's decision to recognize the vernacular of African American students in teaching them Standard English is linguistically and pedagogically sound.
In 1994, as one of several changes aimed at strengthening the high school diploma, the Pennsylvania State Department of Education added foreign languages to the list of core subject areas. After consultation with the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association, the Board set a foreign language proficiency requirement for high school graduation. This requirement, which took effect beginning with the children who were in the first grade in the fall of 1995, is a rating of Intermediate Low on the speaking proficiency scale published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
Each Pennsylvania school district will determine how to implement a testing program to certify the language proficiency of its students. Although it is still 10 years until the first cohort required to meet the standard will graduate, school districts must decide on procedures for standardized testing of large numbers of students, train test administrators, and familiarize teachers and students with the performance-based requirements of the test.
Over the past two years, the Center for Applied Linguistics has received many requests from Pennsylvania for information and technical assistance in oral proficiency testing. Foreign language teachers and the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association view CAL's Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview (SOPI) as a practical means of implementing proficiency testing in their districts. In a SOPI, students record their answers to tape-recorded questions that elicit authentic task-based responses. The answers are scored by trained raters according to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. Administration is easily standardized. Each examinee receives the same high quality test and scoring is simplified.
Through its National Capital Language Resource Center, CAL has provided a variety of technical assistance to secondary and college teachers in Pennsylvania. Training sessions have included familiarization workshops in Bucks County, Philadelphia, Scranton, and Reading. There have been one-day sessions to train Spanish, French, and German high school teachers in Scranton and Pittsburgh in rating the SOPIs for their languages. A two-day rater training session was provided for Spanish, French, and German teachers from the state university system, and similar two-day rater training sessions for college-level teachers from throughout the state (sponsored by the PSMLA). A workshop on procedures for developing SOPIs was offered in Scranton.
Test development and rater training are two of CAL's major activities under the National Capital Language Resource Center. For further information contact Dorry Kenyon at CAL (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Sunbelt Office of the Center for Applied Linguistics plays an important role in the work of Comprehensive Center XIV, one of 15 new regional technical assistance centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Improving America's Schools Act. The centers are now in the second year of a five-year grant.
The Comprehensive Centers replace and integrate the functions of a larger number of more specialized technical assistance centers formerly serving educators involved in federal programs related to Title I, migrant education, bilingual education, drug free schools, and Indian education. This new approach offers states, districts, and schools sustained, non-fragmented training and technical assistance to meet the needs of varied groups of students, many of them from high poverty backgrounds.
The Comprehensive Center for Region XIV has responsibility for serving Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The partners with Educational Testing Service, the prime contractor, and their areas of responsibility are:
In the first year of the grant, the focus was on familiarizing members of the center's staff with each other's areas of specialization, on creating in the region an awareness of exemplary practices, and on assisting district and state agencies with transitions during school reform. During the second year, the center has begun to focus on ten schools¿all with significant bilingual and/or migrant populations¿chosen from throughout the region to serve as model schools.
Over a three-year period, center staff will work intensively with the model schools to help with restructuring and with raising test scores in reading, writing, and math. Restructuring takes into account each school's individual plan for reform, and includes professional development, dissemination of information, and use of technology to inform and link schools, homes, and communities.
In addition to their work with model schools, the staff of CAL's Sunbelt Office (Allene Grognet, Judy Jameson, Cheryl Serrano, and Maria Derrick-Mescua) also provide training for bilingual aides, as well as professional development for superintendents and principals that is relevant to programs inESOL and bilingual education. Every six weeks, CAL staff produce From Theory to Practice, a two-page publication for school districts that gives the rationale for practical classroom solutions for issues in ESOL and bilingual education.
The Comprehensive Centers are beginning to make a difference in the lives of children, and in the development of comprehensive schoolwide programs to meet the needs of all children. For further information contact Allene Grognet at the CAL Sunbelt Office.
How can teachers make their courses accessible to classes that contain students who are still acquiring English alongside students who are native speakers of the language? The Sunbelt Office of the Center for Applied Linguistics is developing materials that are specifically designed for preparing middle and high school content teachers to work with ESOL students (those who are concurrently studying English for speakers of other languages) in their mainstream classes.
The materials, Enriching Content Classes for Secondary ESOL Students, are being developed for the Florida Department of Education as an option for Florida's 60-hour in-service professional development requirement for secondary school teachers of math, science, social studies, and computer literacy.
Starting with the primary concern of middle and high school teachers--how to teach content to ESOL students in mainstream classes¿the materials draw examples, activities, and text from middle and high school content courses. Further, they prepare teachers for cultural issues faced by older students and help teachers develop peer support systems among themselves as well as their students. During staff development sessions, teachers work in pairs and small groups to adapt their own textbooks and instructional activities for ESOL students. The materials also include an option for a practicum in which teachers present and evaluate their adapted lessons in their own classrooms.
Draft materials were piloted during summer 1996 in in-service professional development in Jacksonville, FL in conjunction with five school district ESOL trainers and Project EXCEL, a Title VII training program at the University of Florida. This pilot group of secondary teachers provided valuable feedback for the final development of the materials, which are expected to be completed by June 1997. For further information contact Allene Grognet at the CAL Sunbelt Office.
For the second year, the Project in Adult Immigrant Education (PAIE), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has awarded small grants to four projects to develop and document solutions to common workplace or vocational ESL problems. PAIE will disseminate each grantee's work through the WorkWorld Resources Database, The Connector newsletter, and through PAIE publications such as digests, monographs, and reports. This year's grantees are:
For further information, contact Allene Grognet at the CAL Sunbelt Office.
In recent changes in the Board of Trustees of the Center for Applied Linguistics, Iva E. Carruthers was elected to a three-year term, effective in January 1997, and five trustees who had served for six years each departed from the board.
Dr. Carruthers is former Professor and Chairperson of the Sociology Department at Northeastern Illinois University. With more than 20 years of experience as an educator, she has an extensive background in educational planning, policy analysis, and program design and evaluation.
In the past nine years, Dr. Carruthers has successfully assembled a multidisciplinary, professional executive team to establish Nexus Unlimited, Inc., an information management organization with a focus on multimedia, training, and system integration services. Combining her many years of work and study in the areas of educational policy and race and ethnicity, along with her expertise in computer and emergent technologies, she has pioneered work in multimedia technology and diversity.
Five members are departing from the board after service of two terms. Russell N. Campbell is Professor Emeritus in the Teaching English as a Second Language/Applied Linguistics Department of the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also Director of UCLA's Language Resource Program.
P. Gus Cárdenas retired after 29 years from the Xerox Corporation. He is currently Director of Resource Development at Palo Alto College, San Antonio, TX.
Rosa Castro Feinberg is Associate Professor of Education in the Department of Urban, Multicultural, and International Foundations at Florida International University. She serves as a member of the Education Advisory Committee for the Public Broadcasting system and recently retired from the Dade County School Board.
David Forbes is founder and President of the Forbes Consulting Group, which provides services to business clients to support decision making during market analysis, strategic planning, and new product development.
Peter Parham is founder and Executive Director of Peter Parham and Associates, which offers its clients plans of action in public relations, network development, government relations, legislative affairs, marketing and sales, strategic planning, fund development, and leadership training.
Dorry M. Kenyon, Co-Director of CAL's Foreign Language Education and Testing Division and Associate Director of the National Capital Language Resource Center, has been selected to receive the TOEFL Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Research on Second/Foreign Language Testing. The award will be presented at the Language Testing Research Colloquium in Orlando, FL in March.
Kenyon's dissertation, Linking Multiple-Choice Test Scores to Verbally-Defined Proficiency Levels: An Application to Chinese Reading Proficiency, examines a continuing problem in language testing research: relating verbally defined proficiency descriptors to objective item types. It presents a four-step approach to making this link, then investigates its application from tests of reading proficiency in Chinese and the Guidelines of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
Dr. Kenyon has been on the staff of the Center for Applied Linguistics since 1987. He directs the testing program and oversees professional development activities in language proficiency testing.
The Center for Applied Linguistics invites applications for the 1997 G. Richard Tucker Summer Fellowship. The fellowship pays a stipend plus travel expenses for an eight-week summer residency in Washington, DC while the Fellow works with CAL senior staff members on one of CAL's existing research projects or on a suitable project suggested by the Fellow. Priority will be given to proposals that focus on language education or on language issues related to minorities in the United States or Canada.
The competition is open to candidates for a master's or doctoral degree in any field that is concerned with the study of language. Minorities are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a degree program in the United States or Canada and must have completed the equivalent of at least one year of full-time graduate study. Applications must be received on or before April 25, 1997. For further information contact Grace S. Burkart at the Center for Applied Linguistics, 4646 40th Street NW, Washington, DC 20016-1859. Telephone: 1-202-362-0700. Internet: email@example.com.
A review of the more recent publications from CAL's English Language and Multicultural Education division reflects the broad scope of the division's project activities.
The following are brief descriptions of publications produced by projects in the ELME division that range from professional resource and reference materials to instructional materials for language learning. Ordering information is given at the end of the article.
Welcome to the United States: A Guidebook for Refugees, compiled by the Refugee Service Center, Center for Applied Linguistics. (CAL/RSC; call CAL for information on dissemination) Providing information needed by refugees in the early weeks of their resettlement in the United States, this guide is available for distribution to refugees overseas once they have been approved for resettlement by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. It aims to help refugees develop realistic expectations about employment, education, health, and other aspects of life in this country. In addition to English, the guide is available in Arabic, Bosnian, French, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Iraqi Kurds: Their History and Culture, by Barbara Robson. (CAL/RSC, $3.00) This is Number 13 in the Refugee Fact Sheet Series published by CAL's Refugee Service Center. Like others in the series, this issue is designed to inform service providers regarding the history, culture, social structure, religion, education, and language of a particular refugee population and offer suggestions for aiding them in their resettlement in the United States. Other recent populations treated in the series include the Bosnians, Somalis, Haitians, Iraqis, and Cubans.
Bosnian Refugee Resettlement in the U.S., by Susan D. Somach. (CAL/RSC, free) This report summarizes the results of a survey of 42 refugee service providers in 22 communities throughout the United States regarding the pre-entry orientation program for Bosnian refugees in Zagreb, Croatia and their resettlement experiences.
Bosnian Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Part II: Refugee Response, by Pamela DiMeo and Susan D. Somach. (CAL/RSC, free) As a follow-up to the survey of service providers, Bosnian refugees were surveyed about their perspective on resettlement and their views on pre-entry cultural orientation. Nearly 200 Bosnians from 18 communities participated.
Attributes of Effective Programs and Classrooms Serving English Language Learners, by Diane August and Lucinda Pease-Alvarez. (CAL/NCRCDSLL, $10.00) In recent years, schools have been challenged to undertake comprehensive reforms to ensure that American students meet world class standards of achievement. However, there is a danger that English language learners may be bypassed in these reform efforts. The authors present a model for reform that is based in the school (rather than in the district, state, or federal government) and that explicitly considers the needs of English language learners. Fifty attributes of effective programs and classrooms are clearly defined and illustrated with one or more examples of their implementation in elementary or secondary schools. Teachers and administrators can compare the educational practices in their own school with these benchmark attributes, then set goals for reform and determine the most appropriate means of accomplishing them.
Conflicts in World Cultures, by Deborah J. Short, Christopher L. Montone, Sally Frekot, and Andrea M. Elfin. (CAL/NCRCDSLL, $15.00) Conflicts in World Cultures (like its companion publication Protest and the American Revolution, CAL/NCRCDSLL, $10.00) was developed to accommodate English language learners in sheltered or mainstream social studies classes. While the curriculum unit is intended primarily for middle school students, it has also been successfully adapted for high school and the upper elementary grades. The materials comprise 22 lessons, each containing language, content, and thinking or study skillobjectives; a lesson plan; accompanying handouts; extension activities; and resources for the teacher. The materials are organized around the theme of conflict and conflict resolution in four different cultures at four different historical periods.
Integrating Language and Culture in the Social Studies, by Deborah J. Short and Christopher L. Montone. (CAL/NCRCDSLL, $8.00) This training packet provides sample topics for a professional development workshop preparing teachers of social studies and of English as a second language to teach social studies material to English language learners. Activities familiarize the participants with instructional methods for integrating language and content and model the use of Conflicts in World Cultures and Protest and the American Revolution.
New Concepts for New Challenges: Professional Development for Teachers of Immigrant Youth, by Josué González and Linda Darling-Hammond. (Delta, $14.95; to appear Spring 1997) The authors examine professional development for teachers of immigrant adolescents, describing several highly successful existing programs. Their framework starts with what teachers need to understand about their students, leads to the kinds of professional learning experiences that are likely to support those understandings, and finally considers the kinds of school settings and teacher education programs that are able to support teacher learning.
Into, Through, and Beyond Secondary School: Critical Transitions for Immigrant Youth, by Tamara Lucas. (Delta, $14.95; to appear Spring 1997) Based on a review of research and on direct observation of many excellent programs serving immigrant secondary school students, the author presents principles and strategies for easing students through the crucial transitions of initial entry into U.S. culture and schools, successful pursuit of high school studies, and graduation to work and higher education.
Writing our Lives. 2nd edition, edited by Joy Kreeft Peyton and Jana Staton. (Delta, $11.95) A collection of papers written by leading teachers and researchers, this guide to the use of dialogue journals is the first to focus on adults who are developing literacy in English as a second language. The papers address the underlying principles of dialogue journals as well as providing practical methods for their effective use. Also included is a comprehensive bibliography (updated from the first edition) for further reading about practice and research in dialogue journal writing.
Resource Guide: Dialogue Journal Bibliography, by Joy Kreeft Peyton and Jana Staton. (CAL/NCLE, $2.50) This is a further update of the bibliography in Writing our Lives. It lists books, handbooks, articles, book chapters, a newsletter, reports, dissertations, and theses. Included aregeneral articles useful with any population, journal writing with adults and with other student populations, and the use of dialogue journals in the teaching of writing and reading and in content instruction. Many items are available through the ERIC database.
How to Buy a Home in the United States. Teacher's guide and Student book, by the Fannie Mae Foundation and the Center for Applied Linguistics. (Free; call CAL for ordering information) These lessons in English as a second language for adult learners at an intermediate or higher level of language proficiency are designed to supplement the regular curriculum. The lessons integrate language development with practical content addressing the process of homeownership. The teacher's guide provides background information on homeownership, together with a lesson plan and suggestions for presentation of each lesson.
Learning to Work in a New Land: A Review and Sourcebook for Vocational and Workplace English, by Marilyn K. Gillespie. (CAL/PAIE, $7.00) This comprehensive overview of the status of vocational and workplace English as a second language instruction is based on a review of the literature of both research and practice. It will serve as a resource for those who prepare adult immigrants and out-of-school youth to work in the United States.
The Vocational Classroom: A Great Place to Learn English, by Elizabeth Platt. (CAL/PAIE, $4.00) Using examples from vocational classrooms, this paper explores how vocational teachers, teachers of English as a second language, and vocational program administrators can maximize opportunities for students with limited English proficiency to improve their English as they master vocational content.
Delta publications are available through Delta Systems Co., Inc. (1-800-323-8270). CAL publications (NCLE, NCRCDSLL, PAIE, RSC) may be ordered directly from the Center for Applied Linguistics (1-202-362-0700).
Afghanistan is in the news again, this year as a result of the takeover of two-thirds of the country by an ultra-conservative Moslem group called the Taliban. If, as seems likely, the Taliban should continue to control Afghanistan, they may need to reconcile their determination to instil medieval Moslem rule with the conditions of living in the modern world.
It is occasionally mentioned in the press that 98 percent of the Taliban are ethnic Pashtuns, an Indo-European people closely related to the Kurds in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria. They are related as well to the Persian-speaking Iranians, the Tajiks, and the Dari speakers with whom they have lived in Afghanistan. The Pashtuns, who speak a language called Pashto (also spelled Pushtu), have lived since recorded times in the southeast section of Afghanistan and the adjacent Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan (where they are called Pathans). The British encounters with "Afghans" in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were with the Pashtuns. The battle in which Sherlock Holmes' biographer John Watson was wounded was a battle between the British army and the Pashtuns--which, incidentally, the Pashtuns won.
The Pashtuns formed a considerable percentage of the mujaheddin, or freedom fighters, who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989. Thus, the war in Afghanistan created a need for Pashto speakers in various agencies of the U.S. government, and government language teaching agencies were consequently charged with offering instruction in Pashto.
In 1985, CAL responded to a request to develop beginning materials in Pashto to suit the requirements of the Defense Language Institute. A Basic Course--consisting of a student text, laboratory materials, a handwriting manual, and teacher's manual--was produced, but when DLI ended its Pashto program, the materials ceased to be used.
In subsequent years, however, the Department of Education's Center for International Education funded CAL to develop what has resulted in a complete series of materials to teach the language, its alphabet, and its literature. These materials are currently used in all the government-sponsored Pashto programs, and CAL is frequently called upon for information and technical assistance for the teaching of the language.
CAL's Pashto materials, all authored by Habibullah Tegey and Barbara Robson, consist of:
All components of the Pashto materials are available in microfiche or in hard copy through the ERIC Documentation Reproduction Service (1-800-276-9834). Contact Dora Johnson at CAL for information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A new parent brochure from the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) answers questions that parents commonly ask about language study for their children:
Obtain your free copy by calling ERIC/CLL at the Center for Applied Linguistics 1-202-362-0700.
Digests, minibibs, and annotated bibliographies may be ordered from CAL free of charge. Other publications may be ordered from the source given in parentheses after each item.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics
Foreign Language Education and Testing
Project in Adult Immigrant Education
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