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A Look at How Students Relate to a Variety of Language

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I will use this site for student experiences with dialect. This journal explores the different experiences of students with dialects. It primarily focuses on their experiences in college, but it is applicable for all ages because these problems follow students for their entire academic lives. This article defines language as a privilege, especially when the preferred “school dialect” so obviously avoids certain stigmatized dialects. Because we choose one dialect, especially for standardized tests, one is ranked above the other, leaving many students behind in a time of crucial development. They found that students with stigmatized dialects were less likely to be confident in essay writing and less likely to speak up in class as a result of the stigma.

Lily Filmore, a linguist, explains language to high school teachers. She outlines a teacher’s role as communicator, educator, evaluator, educated human being, and agent of socialization. She recommends courses for teachers to take prior to deciding to teach. Grammar is not the only obstacle: often children who struggle with formal English have a stigmatized dialect that does not allow them to communicate and navigate educational institutions. Teachers have the responsibility toward their students to learn how to help them in the best way possible.

There are certain problems specific to ELL (English Language Learners). Folse discusses that the grammar issues that non-native English speakers have can take years to correct. He argues that is a grammatical accent – something that will continue despite them being fluent or semi-fluent in the language. For writing specifically, these learners have a disadvantage. Though they can read and understand well, they will make simple mistakes writing because they were not born hearing the intricacies of the English language constantly. For a teacher to expect them to undo their native language is not a realistic goal.

This article explains code-switching in more detail. They have an interesting section that explores what teachers should do with the knowledge of code-switching. They state that teachers need to understand that correcting non-standard English as if it is riddled with errors is proven to be ineffective. Instead, teachers should make sure to inform students of specific areas where code-switching would help, but they should not altogether ask a student to abandon a familiar dialect. Encouraging code-switching relies on a teacher’s knowledge that this switch is not permanent or ‘solving’ anything.

This high school teacher is optimistic that Common Core might give a basis for grammar learning. She writes that she has seen less grammar later on in Common Core because it has such a focus in elementary school. The lessons teach everything from complex to compound sentences, breaking down the rules of grammar for students who are unfamiliar. She also acknowledges that a national dialogue has started again to explore the best way to teach grammar.

An instructor in college laments about the grammar that he sees on a daily basis. Despite the fact that his college gives courses in English devoted to essay writing first, he still sees little to no progress with students. He does not know how to pass them on to the next level college classes without a good grasp of the English language. He suggests more remedial classes earlier, because students are often at too large of a disadvantage in college without the basics.

Primarily, the focus on linguistic changes specific to the African American community. Through these discussions, some flaws with dialectical preference is obvious. They call it “linguistic profiling,” and the discrimination that exists in the real world translates into the dialectical preference of institutions. If teachers allow this discrimination to permeate their classrooms, it is detrimental to the students.

This high school teacher explains that grammar may seem obsolete in the modern world, and he acknowledges that it is important to stay up to date with new trends in grammar. However, he states that teaching grammar is not just about grammar itself; instead, it is a way to teach students to remain mindful of how they speak and write. By teaching mindfulness and meticulous writing, students are better prepared for the analysis they will be required to fulfill in years to come.

Researchers have realized that non-standard English is not less academic or less intelligent. All types of dialects require extensive skill to master. Therefore, it is argued that all should be encouraged. Writing one off as ‘lesser’ does a disservice to the student and the classroom. In addition, a phenomenon known as “code switching” explores students who can switch between certain informal and formal dialects. These students are effectively bilingual: able to master multiple dialects and aware of the purpose of different manners of speech.

Policymakers in North Carolina explore Common Core tests. They note that there are no stand-alone questions for grammar. No questions ask about grammar facts or editing. Questions are open-ended, but no points are awarded for grammar. Therefore, he argues, there is not an incentive for teachers to teach grammar.

Valerie Strauss warns college professors that the writing required of high school students trains students in the wrong way. Because standardized tests require quality of answers instead of quality of writing, teachers are encouraged to not grade based on grammar at all.

These two authors suggest a variety of lessons that encourage code-switching. These encouragements are better than the alternative: according to their research, repeatedly correcting grammar that is not standard English is an ineffective method that does not create the results for which the teacher is searching.

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