Teaching Standard English - The Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium

When the Oakland, California, school board announced at the end of 1996 that it wanted to incorporate awareness of Ebonics into its strategy for teaching standard English, the idea was to attune teachers to aspects of Black English that might be unfamiliar to standard English speakers ? to promote an understanding, for example, that the habitual be is something more than a corrupt or incorrect present-tense verb form. But that's not how the proposal was perceived by the media and the general public. The white syndicated columnist who ridiculed the Oakland board for seeking "to teach English as a second language to African-American children more familiar with hip-hop lingo" typified the scorn and non-comprehension that characterized much public commentary on the proposal. The columnist in question would never, presumably, have published overtly racist epithets, but thought it highly amusing to sneer at an imaginary Ebonics-inspired Hamlet lesson in which the prince's famous soliloquy opens, "Is you is o' is you ain't." As if white kids in Marin County be speaking Elizabethan English at the mall while black kids in Oakland just be scratching their heads in ignorance. (In fairness to white critics who didn't get the point, the Oakland Ebonics proposal was also attacked by many black intellectuals, celebrities, and political leaders. They too failed to grasp that the plan was designed not to supplant standard English in the classroom, but rather, in Seymour's words, "to transition kids from Ebonics to standard American English without denigrating Ebonics.")

Teaching Standard English

It should be said, incidentally, that at least SOME of the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the Oakland resolutions arose because the resolutions were misinterpreted as proposals to teach Ebonics itself, or to teach in Ebonics, rather than as proposals to respect and take it into account while teaching standard English. The method of studying language known as 'contrastive analysis' involves drawing students' attention to similarities and differences between Ebonics and Standard English. Since the 1960s, it has been used successfully to boost Ebonics speakers' reading and writing performance in Standard English, most recently in public schools in DeKalb County, GA, and in Los Angeles, CA (as part of the LA Unified School District's Academic English Mastery Program).

Teaching Standard English While Embracing Dialect Diversity - Blogs

Using Ebonics or Black English as a Bridge to Teaching Standard English It is not clear whether these unfounded myths are clearly different from each other, except regarding the ethnic affiliations of their authors and their attitudes to using federal or state funds to help the relevant school children. The Ebonics qua Niger-Congo language position has been advocated especially by some African Americans since Williams (1975), whose definition, discussed below, has provided good justification for requesting allocation of funds from Limited English Proficiency (LEP) programs, to teaching standard English to AAE-speakers (Baugh 1998). Since LEP programs were designed for speakers of languages other than English, they argue that AAE can also be treated as a separate language and techniques for teaching standard English to its speakers must be at least similar to those used for teaching it to children of immigrants from non-Anglophone countries.

Code-switching: Teaching standard English in urban

The way to interpret McWhorter’s position constructively is that AAE is not alone in being different from standard English and that the differences between AAE and American standard English are not necessarily greater than between the latter and other American non-standard English vernaculars. The position implies correctly that techniques for teaching standard English to African-American school children need not be different from those used for teaching it to other American school children who speak English natively, though they should be adapted to subcultural differences. This position does not of course entail that school systems should continue business as usual. It simply suggests that AAE need not be treated as an exceptional or uniquely deviant case in the classroom.

Chapter 4 Teaching Standard English