Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools

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In today's culturally diverse classrooms, students possess and use many culturally, ethnically, and regionally diverse English language varieties that may differ from standardized English. This book helps classroom teachers become attuned to these differences and offers practical strategies to support student achievement while fostering positive language attitudes in classrooms and beyond. The text contrasts standardized English with Southern, Appalachian, and African American English varieties, focusing on issues that are of everyday concern to those who are assessing the linguistic competence of students.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807751497
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press
  • Publication date: 12/5/2010
  • Series: Multicultural Education Series, #45
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Series Foreword vii

Foreword William Labov xiii

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xix

1 Valuable Voices 1

Language Variation 2

Language, Students, and Multicultural Education 4

Who We Are 6

What Educators Want to Know About Language Variation 9

2 What is Standard English? 11

English Language Standards 11

Teaching Language Standards 12

Learning Language Standards 14

Some Features of School English 21

The Privilege of Standardized English 35

3 Southern English: A Regional and Cultural Variety 37

Defining the South 38

Language Variation in the South 39

Attitudes Toward Southern English 42

The Value of Southern Language and Culture 44

Features of Southern English 49

The Take-Away Message 67

4 African American English: An Ethnic and Cultural Variety 69

The History of African American English 70

Attitudes Toward African American English 72

The Value of African American Language and Culture 73

Features of African American English 79

The Take-Away Message 109

5 Assessment and Application 110

Testing Specific Populations 111

The Culture of Standardized Tests 117

The Language of Standardized Tests 120

Other Types of Assessment 137

Language-Centered Action Plans for Educators 139

Conclusion 140

Afterword Walt Wolfram 143

References 145

About the Authors 161

Index 163

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 31, 2011

    A must buy for all who are part of the school community

    At last we have a book on language variation that speaks to the entire school community including not only educators, but administrators, and counselors as well. Concise, clearly written, and a perfect balance between theory and practice, this book is very readable and does not require a linguistic background in order to understand it. The reader will walk away with a deeper understanding of what English language variation is and how it relates to teaching and academic achievement. The authors advocate that educators build on the language patterns that students bring with them to school, helping all students learn standardized English without diminishing their linguistic and cultural background (9).
    Perhaps the most welcomed feature--and where other books of this sort fall short--is the authors' inclusion of sections called, Strategies for Educators which provide plenty of concrete ways to foster language awareness and linguistically informed responses in the classroom. If, as an educator, you have ever reflected upon the connection between your students' home language and school achievement, then grab this book. I wish I would have had Understanding English Language Variation in hand at the beginning of my teaching profession.

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  • Posted January 21, 2011

    A wonderful resource

    An amazing book that is both well-informed and nuanced. It's a crucial resource for all educators who wish to help students who have been too often neglected. I have used material from this book as a tutor for high school students.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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