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Dialect differences are one of the most interesting features of language, but also one of the most controversial, particularly in schools. Dialects are varieties of a language that contrast in pronunciation, grammatical patterns, and vocabulary and that are associated with geographic area and social class. Although the term dialect is used popularly to refer to vernacular (i.e., non-standard) language varieties, linguists use the term in a neutral sense to refer to any variety--vernacular or standard. All dialects, whether considered standard or vernacular, are regular. Claims that some varieties are "proper" and others are "broken" or "sloppy" reflect language attitudes rather than linguistic facts. Years of sociolinguistic research have shown that dialects are merely different from each other.
Standard English is a useful construct, especially for education, but it encompasses a range of dialects. A formal standard variety of English, as reflected in dictionaries and grammars, is associated with written language, but it is unlikely that anyone speaks it. Speech communities use an informal standard that is a more flexible variety.
Standard English varies geographically; for example, Standard English in the South shows some pronunciation contrasts with Standard English in the North. Standard English in the United States contrasts with Standard English in Britain, Ireland, Australia, or India. In fact, there is no single standard. Members of a speech community have a generally shared understanding of Standard English for their group. This is the dialect that is associated with educated people and good jobs, the one that schools are expected to foster.
It is important to keep in mind, especially in the context of education, that linguistic features associated with vernacular dialects are not incorrect. They do not represent language deficiency. Speaking a vernacular dialect is not the result of poor or incomplete language learning and its use does not impede cognitive development. Correctness in language is a matter of social acceptability. In schools, students should be encouraged to build competence in speaking and writing a standard variety but their vernacular dialects must be respected as evidence of social identity and linguistic expertise.
In addition to indigenous varieties of American English, a number of World Englishes (e.g., Indian English, Singapore English, Caribbean English, South African English) are increasingly visible in U.S. schools, as are dialects of other languages. Spanish dialects (e.g., Puerto Rican Spanish, Mexican Spanish) are an issue in the context of teaching Spanish to Spanish speakers and bilingual education. As with English, a formal standard Spanish variety is recognized for purposes of reading and writing.
Increasing knowledge about language can reduce misconceptions about dialects. One way to teach students about vernacular dialects is to have them study language variation in their own communities.
Adapted with permission from Wolfram, W., Adger, C.T., & Christian, D. (1999). Dialects in Schools and Communities. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
ERIC/CLL is grateful to Carolyn Adger, Director, Language in Society Division, Center for Applied Linguistics and to Gregory Bricca, Supervisor of Reading and Language Arts, Carroll County (MD) Public Schools, for their valuable assistance in compiling this Resource Guide Online.
The following publications, conferences, Web sites, and listservs offer additional information about dialects in education. This Resource Guide concludes with an annotated bibliography of ERIC documents related to dialect education.
Publications, Web sites, conferences, listservs, and other sources of information on dialects in education follow, with a search of the ERIC database to guide further research.
Digests are brief overviews of topics in education. ERIC/CLL has prepared many timely digests on topics related to language teaching and learning. The following ERIC/CLL titles are related to dialect issues.
Literacy and Language Diversity in the United States by Terrence G. Wiley, provides both an introduction to issues in literacy and language diversity and compelling questions for those who work in the field.
Making the Connection: Language and Academic Achievement Among African American Students, by Carolyn Temple Adger, Donna Christian, and Orlando Taylor responds to the debate about African American Vernacular English (AAVE) with up-to-date, informative discussions about language variation among African American students that will help educators enhance their students' academic achievement.
The Carrier Pidgin contains articles, reports on research in progress, notes and queries, book reviews, institutional news, and meeting and conference announcements related to pidgins and creoles.
The Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages focuses on current research on Pidgin and Creole languages and application of this knowledge to language planning, education, and social reform in Creole-speaking societies.
Pidgins and Creoles in Education (PACE) produces a newsletter on issues, publications, and conferences dealing with pidgins, creoles, and minority dialects in education. For more information contact Jeff Siegel at the University of New England in Australia.
Adger, C. (1997). Issues and Implications of English Dialects for Teaching English as a Second Language. TESOL Professional Papers #3. discusses dialect issues in schools, research in the field, and teacher preparation. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Amastae, J., & Elias-Olivares, L. (1982). Spanish in the United States: Sociolinguistic Aspects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Baugh, J. (1999). Out of the Mouths of Slaves. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Baugh, J. (2000). Beyond Ebonics: Linguistic Pride and Racial Prejudice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bjarkman, R., & Hammond, R. (1989). American Spanish Pronunciation: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Coelho, E. (1991). Caribbean Students in Canadian Schools, Book 2. Markham, Canada: Pippin Publishing Ltd.
Craig, D. (1999). Teaching Language and Literacy: Policies and Procedures for Vernacular Situations. Guyana: Education and Development Services. Order by contacting Education and Development Services, Inc., P.O. Box 10412, Georgetown, Guyana.
Delpit, L. (1995). Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. New York: The New Press.
Green, L.J. (2002). African American English: A Linguistic Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Heath, S. (1983). Ways with Words. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hewitt, R. (1986). White Talk Black Talk: Interracial Friendship and Communication amongst Adolescents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kachru, B. (1986). The Alchemy of English: The Spread, Functions and Models of Non-native Englishes. New York: Pergamon.
Kachru, B. (1992). The Other Tongue: English across Cultures. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Kochman, T. (1981). Black and White Styles in Conflict. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kolker, A., & Alvarez, L. (1986). American Tongues [videorecording from the Center for New American Media] Hohokus, NJ: New American Media Film Library.
Leap, W. (1993). American Indian English. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press.
Lippi-Green, R. (1997). English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. New York: Routledge.
McWhorter, J. (2000). Spreading the Word: Language and Dialect in America. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Mufwene, S., Rickford, J., Bailey, G., & Baugh, J. (1998). African-American English: Structure, History and Use. New York: Routledge.
Perry, T., & Delpit, L. (1998). The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African-American Children. Boston: Beacon Press.
Ramirez, A. (1992). El español de los Estados Unidos: El lenguaje de los hispanos. Madrid: Editorial MAPFRE.
Ramirez, J., Wiley, T., de Klerk, G., & Lee, E. (1999). Ebonics in the Urban Education Debate. Long Beach, CA: California State University and the Center for Language Minority Education and Research.
Rickford, J. (1999). African American Vernacular English. Oxford: Blackwell.
Rickford, J., & Rickford, R. (2000). Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Scavnicky, G. (1980). Dialectología hispanoamericana: Estudios actuales. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Smitherman, G. (2000). Talkin that Talk: Language, Culture and Education in African America. New York: Routledge.
Valdés, G. (1995). The Teaching of Minority Languages as Academic Subjects: Pedagogical and Theoretical Challenges. Modern Language Journal, 79(3), 299-328.
Valdés, G., Lozano, A., & García-Moya, R. (1981). Teaching Spanish to the Hispanic Bilingual: Issues, Aims and Methods. New York: Columbia University, Teachers College.
Wolfram, W., Adger, C. T., & Christian, D. (1999). Dialects in Schools and Communities. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Wolfram, W., & Schilling-Estes, N. (1997). Hoi Toide on the Outer Banks: The Story of the Ocracoke Brogue. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.
Wolfram, W., & Schilling-Estes, N. (1998). American English: Dialects and Variation. Oxford: Blackwell.
Zentella, A. (1997). Growing up Bilingual. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
ADS-L is the listserv of the American Dialect Society. To subscribe to the list, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the body of the message, type SUB ADS-L your name.
The LinguistList is a major listserv for those interested in any aspect of linguistics. Subscribe at the LinguistList subscription page.
The American Dialect Society is dedicated to the study of the English language and its dialects in North America.
American Speech is the journal of the American Dialect Society.
The American Dialect Homepage contains numerous popular and scholarly links related to Canadian, American, and West Indian dialects and languages.
The International Society for Dialectology and Geolinguistics is an international organization that promotes the study of dialectology and geolinguistics. Their journal is entitled Dialectologia et Geolinguistica.
The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) is a major source of information about projects, publications, and products related to dialects.
CAL's Ebonics information page contains links to policy and position statements from numerous researchers and organizations on the topic of Ebonics as well as a list of print resources.
The National Map of the Regional Dialects of American English is a research project at the University of Pennsylvania that charts the sound changes of urban dialects based on telephone surveys, with the aim of producing a phonological atlas.
The American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) is a professional organization of scholars who are interested in and actively contribute to applied linguistics and its related fields, including dialects.
The Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (CAAL, or ACLA in French) promotes research, experimentation, teaching, and the diffusion of knowledge in all fields of applied linguistics, including the learning and teaching of first and second languages.
The Language Varieties Network contains information, links, and classroom tips related to pidgins, creoles, and other stigmatized varieties.
The Language Varieties Web site provides information to non-linguists about pidgins, creoles, minority dialects, regional dialects, and indigenous language varieties. The site includes descriptions of Hawaii Creole English, African American Vernacular English, Aboriginal English, Singlish (Singapore Colloquial English), Bislama, Tok Pisin, and Kamtok.
The Linguistic Atlas Projects are a series of research projects which characterize various regional dialects of the United States.
The American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) holds an annual conference that includes sessions on dialect education.
Additional resources on this topic are available through the ERIC database of educational documents. The following search lists books, papers, reports, journal articles, and other documents of interest. Information on obtaining these materials appears after the search.
The Ebonics Controversy: An Educational and Clinical Dilemma.
Seymour, Harry N.; Abdulkarim, Lamya; Johnson, Valerie
Topics in Language Disorders, v19 n4 p66-77 Aug 1999
Examines the reasons and myths surrounding the Ebonics controversy, which concerns the use of the English dialect spoken by many African-American children in Oakland, California, schools as a strategy for teaching Standard American English. Implications for diagnosing and educating special-education students whose primary dialect is Ebonics are drawn.
Descriptors: *Black Dialects; Black Students; *Disability Identification; Elementary Secondary Education; Language Standardization; *Limited English Speaking; Nonstandard Dialects; Special Education
"I Wouldn't Think Nothin' of It": Teacher Candidates Survey Public on Nonstandard Usage.
English Education, v31 n4 p295-309 Jul 1999
Describes a survey project that uses real language data and takes the teacher candidates out of the classroom. Investigates the attitudes of the public toward nonstandard usage and about where "prescriptivism and descriptivism converge." Concludes that teacher candidates need to have direct exposure to the attitudes that others hold regarding nonstandard forms.
Descriptors: Classroom Environment; *Community Attitudes; Community Surveys; Higher Education; *Language Attitudes; *Language Usage; *Nonstandard Dialects; Preservice Teacher Education; *Teacher Attitudes
A Recommended Reading List for Teachers of African American Students Who Speak Ebonics.
Hoover, Mary Rhodes
Journal of Negro Education, v67 n1 p43-47 Win 1998
Lists 30 resources that provide essential background information, research findings, examples from the field, and recommendations for practice for teachers of students who speak Ebonics.
Descriptors: *Black Dialects; Black Students; *Educational Resources; Language Arts; *Reading Materials; *Teaching Methods; Urban Schools
Choosing a "Standard" Variety of Spanish for the Instruction of Native Spanish Speakers in the U.S.
Villa, Daniel J.
Foreign Language Annals, v29 n2 p191-200 Sum 1996
Discusses the different varieties of Spanish, the decision of which variety to teach to native speakers, and the concept of a "standard" usage. Basing the decision on sociolinguistic research, this article proposes a spoken and written variety of Spanish to be employed in teaching native speakers in the United States.
Descriptors: *Heritage Education; Language Research; *Language Variation; Native Language Instruction; *Native Speakers; Oral Language; Second Language Instruction; Second Language Learning; Sociolinguistics; *Spanish; *Standard Spoken Usage; Written Language
The Psychoeducational Assessment of Ebonics Speakers: Issues and Challenges.
Gopaul-McNicol, Sharon-ann; Reid, Grace; Wisdom, Cecilia
Journal of Negro Education, v67 n1 p16-24 Win 1998
Focuses on the limitations of traditional standardized psychoeducational assessments for Ebonics speakers and describes alternative measures that may yield more accurate results for these students. Also highlights the implications of traditional and nontraditional assessment approaches for test developers, evaluators, educators, and students. Descriptors: *Black Dialects; Black Students; Elementary Secondary Education; *Psychoeducational Methods; *Standardized Tests; Student Evaluation; Test Construction; *Test Use; Urban Schools; Urban Youth
Chicano Spanish: The Problem of the "Underdeveloped" Code in Bilingual Repertoires.
Valdes, Guadalupe; Geoffrion-Vinci, Michelle
Modern Language Journal, v82 n4 p473-501 Win 1998
Research described oral texts produced by second- and third- generation bilingual Chicano Spanish speakers when required to carry out a set of functions in only one of their available codes. Analysis focuses on characteristics of planned, noninteractive spoken language produced in Spanish by university students in a classroom setting, compared with Spanish monolinguals of comparable age, education, social background.
Descriptors: *Bilingualism; College Students; Comparative Analysis; Discourse Analysis; Higher Education; Language Patterns; *Language Proficiency; Language Research; *Language Variation; Linguistic Theory; *Mexican Americans; Monolingualism; *Oral Language; Regional Dialects; Second Language Instruction; *Second Languages; Spanish Speaking; Vocabulary Development
Language Differences: A New Approach for Special Educators.
Adger, Carolyn Temple; And Others
Teaching Exceptional Children, v26 n1 p44-47 Fall 1993
This article offers special educators suggestions for using the natural occurrence of multiple dialects in the school and community as a means to teach children about the nature of language in society, increase their language awareness, learn about dialects, and learn Standard English as a second dialect if necessary.
Descriptors: *Cultural Differences; Dialects; *Disabilities; Elementary Secondary Education; *Language Attitudes; Limited English Speaking; *Linguistics; *Nonstandard Dialects; North American English; Standard Spoken Usage
Hypocorrection: Mistakes in Production of Vernacular African American English as a Second Dialect.
Language and Communication, v12 n3-4 p317-26 Jul-Oct 1992
An idealized model of mutual second dialect acquisition in a bidialectal speech community is presented, placed in historical context, and used to illustrate the inherent social nature of hypercorrection and hypocorrection. The controversy surrounding hypercorrection for Black English is reviewed, and hypocorrection is shown to reinforce observations regarding linguistic innovation among African Americans.
Descriptors: Bilingualism; *Black Dialects; *Language Acquisition; Linguistic Theory; Models; Morphology (Languages); *Nonstandard Dialects; Phonology; *Social Dialects; Syntax
Cross-Cultural Communication: An Essential Dimension of Effective Education. Revised Edition.
Taylor, Orlando L.
Publication Date: 1990
This guide to improving cross-cultural communication is the second part of a four-part series addressing the essential characteristics of effective instruction that have a positive impact on the academic achievement of Black and Hispanic students. Since schools tend to reflect the norms and values of the majority culture, cultural misunderstandings often have a negative effect on a minority student's academic performance. The following topics are discussed: (1) cultural diversity and cross-cultural communication issues in schools; (2) discovering the characteristics of other cultures; (3) cultural differences in discourse; (4) using cross-cultural communication to improve interpersonal relationships; (5) teaching standard English to speakers of nonstandard English dialects, including implementation of Standard English as a Second Dialect (SESD) programs; (6) cultural bias in tests and assessment procedures; and (7) the effect of cultural and communicative incongruities on discipline. The following tables are included: (1) a quiz about culture, communication, and language; (2) questions to ask about culture; (3) varieties of nonstandard American English; (4) communication contrasts among some African Americans and some Anglo Americans; (5) classroom problems arising from culture and communication conflicts; and (6) sources of bias in tests and testing procedures. The following materials are appended: (1) an abstract of the philosophy and assumptions of the Richmond (California) Standard English Program; (2) the attributes of field-independent and field-dependent cognitive styles; (3) information sources on SESD programs; and (4) a 34-item bibliography.
Descriptors: *Classroom Techniques; *Cultural Awareness; *Cultural Differences; *Culture Conflict; Elementary Secondary Education; *Intercultural Communication; Interpersonal Communication; Minority Groups; *Multicultural Education; Nonstandard Dialects; Standard Spoken Usage; Teaching Methods; Test Bias
On the Question of "Standard" versus "Dialect": Implications for Teaching Hispanic College Students.
Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, v9 n4 p375-95 Dec 1987
The theoretical and pedagogical issues emanating from the practice of teaching Spanish to Hispanic bilingual college students are discussed. Distinctions are made between standard Spanish and the two most important United States varieties of Chicano and Puerto Rican Spanish, and structural differences are examined. Teaching suggestions are included.
Descriptors: *College Students; Higher Education; *Hispanic Americans; *Language Standardization; *Native Language Instruction; Nonstandard Dialects; Puerto Ricans; *Spanish Speaking; *Teacher Effectiveness
Regional Norms for English.
Kachru, Braj B.
In: Savignon, Sandra J., Ed. and Berns, Margie S., Ed. Communicative Language Teaching: Where Are We Going? Urbana, Language Learning Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983.
The debate continues about regional norms for English usage around the world, although the discussion has become more realistic and less didactic. Educated non-native varieties are increasingly accepted, distinctions are being made between national and international language uses, and localized varieties are no longer considered as necessarily deficient. Several trends are influencing this process. First, the number of non-native English speakers is increasing faster than the number of native speakers. Second, planning for English usage is increasingly in the hands of non-native speakers, who have developed their own norms. Third, the development of non-native English literatures is helping to break norms. The complex functions of English across cultures suggest that discussion of international English presents only part of the picture. More serious cross-cultural research on English usage and regional norms is necessary for a real understanding of the issues and solutions. Sixty-eight references are included.
Descriptors: *Communicative Competence (Languages); Dialect Studies; *English (Second Language); Foreign Countries; Language Attitudes; Language Patterns; *Language Standardization; *Language Usage; *Language Variation; Nonstandard Dialects; North American English; Official Languages; *Regional Characteristics; Regional Dialects; Second Language Instruction; Standard Spoken Usage
Dialect Diversity and the Teaching of Reading.
Publication Date: April 1985
One of the central problems in teaching dialectally divergent students to read is the teacher's own lack of awareness of the nature of dialects. Teachers with some linguistics background will be more sensitive to language variation, and will therefore be better able to recognize divergent dialects and to separate learning problems relating to dialect differences from those relating to intelligence, emotional adjustment, and other factors. The method best suited to both the linguistic and social realities of teaching dialectally diverse students to read is the "gentle guidance" approach, which separates the central concern of learning to read from the tangential goal of learning the standard dialect. In this method, students work in their own dialect, and the teacher resolves any confusion or questions as they arise, with straightforward and nonjudgmental linguistics-based explanations. This lets the whole class learn about dialect diversity as well as the reading process. A four-page bibliography is appended.
Descriptors: *Cultural Awareness; Elementary Secondary Education; *Learning Problems; *Nonstandard Dialects; Reading Difficulties; *Reading Instruction; *Social Dialects; Teacher Education; Teacher Role; Teacher Student Relationship; *Teaching Methods
Chicano English: Implications for Assessment and Literary Development.
Bilingual Education Paper Series, Vol. 6, No. 5. December 1982
Chicano English, spoken by many Chicanos and some Anglos, is an ethnic variety of English that serves as a marker of social identity, and it has specific linguistic parameters. It is similar to standard English, and often exists alongside interference English, spoken by Spanish-speakers beginning to learn English. Research supports the argument that Chicano English is a not just a product of language interference with Spanish, but is a dialect, but negative attitudes have kept it from being recognized as such, much as happened with Black English. Once Chicano English is accepted as an ethnic dialect, there are many implications for language assessment, particularly as research uncovers more specific diagnostic tools to distinguish the interference English speaker, who needs help through instruction in English as a second language, from the Chicano English speaker, who could profit most from a bidialectal approach. The dialect's linguistic parameters also have implications for literacy development, especially in writing, that are not always obvious. Knowledge of the differences, or interference, between Chicano and standard English can assist teachers in making fewer mistaken assumptions about presumed student error patterns. Although there is much to be learned about literacy development and Chicano English, and standard English can be used as a bridge to learning orthographic conventions, it would be a mistake to force Chicanos to adopt standard English speech in order to write standard English.
Descriptors: Bilingualism; Classroom Techniques; Educational Strategies; *English; Error Patterns; *Interference (Language); Language Attitudes; Language Classification; *Language Role; Language Variation; *Literacy; Literacy Education; *Mexican Americans; *Nonstandard Dialects; Phonology; Sentence Structure
Teaching School Beginners To Read and Write in the Vernacular.
A Norwegian study of the effectiveness of teaching young children to read and write using their vernacular as the medium of instruction is reported. In 1980-81 and 1981-82, ten classes of beginning primary students were given all initial instruction in reading and writing in the vernacular. Because no language standardization occurs in the Norwegian classroom, teaching in the dialects was considered an instructional principle rather than a method. The experiment took place in three urban and rural regions with three different dialects. Teachers used their preferred methods, adjusting texts to the dialect in their locality and treating the spelling of the language as phonemically as possible. Toward the end of the first year, teachers gradually but explicitly began to use the standardized written language in their teaching. After the first year, the children's progress was tested with two standardized reading measures. The children were also grouped according to general intelligence and intellectual achievement, and the less able students from the dialect groups had better scores on the standardized reading measures than did their counterparts taught by traditional methods. It is concluded that the dialect principle may have made illiterate children more able to analyze their own speech than would traditional methods, increasing their metalinguistic consciousness and phonological maturity.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries; Instructional Effectiveness; *Language of Instruction; Language Role; *Native Language Instruction; Primary Education; *Reading Instruction; *Regional Dialects; *Writing Instruction
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