African American Vernacular English, Code-Switching and the k-12 Inclusive Classroom Dr. Victoria Deneroff, Dr. Rebecca C. McMullen, and Nicholas Helfrick Georgia College The Third Annual Middle ga student Diversity Conference, Atlanta ga background



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African American Vernacular English, Code-Switching and the K-12 Inclusive Classroom

Dr. Victoria Deneroff,

Dr. Rebecca C. McMullen, and Nicholas Helfrick

Georgia College

The Third Annual Middle GA Student Diversity Conference, Atlanta GA
Background Information: African American Vernacular English (AAE)


  • Between 80 and 90 percent of all African-Americans speak what is known as African-American English, also known as African-American Vernacular English, Black English, or Ebonics (Redd and Webb 2005).



  • AAE manifests itself as a language that, while not always following the norms and rules of Standard English, nonetheless follows a set of rules that are just as complex (Redd and Webb 2005, Craig and Washington 2002).



  • Rickford (2000) argues that it is no more correct to refer to African-American English as “lazy” or “broken” English than it is to refer to Italian as “lazy Latin”, citing a rule-governed language rich in conventions, such as the use of double negatives, the dropping of the letter r and g at the end of words, and rhetorical devices such as “signifyin’” and exaggerated language (Redd and Webb 2005).





  • African-American students often go from a home where they hear only AAE to a classroom where they are told by their teachers that the language they speak is incorrect. In an era of high-stakes standardized testing, African-American students take tests that are written in a language with which they are often unfamiliar (Redd and Webb 2005).





  • Teachers find themselves in the position of balancing an appropriate acknowledgment a student’s culture, while also preparing them for success in school and life after school. It is for this reason that the ability to code-switch is of the utmost importance.


References

Baker, J. (2002) Trilingualism. In L. Delpit and J.K. Dowdy (Eds.) The skin that we speak: thoughts on language and culture in the classroom. 3-14. New York, NY: W.W. Norton

Craig, H.K. et. al. (2009). African-American English speaking students: An examination of the relationship between dialect shift and reading outcomes. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. (52) 839-855.

Delpit, L. (2002) No Kinda Sense. L. Delpit and J.K. Dowdy (Eds.) The skin that we speak: thoughts on language and culture in the classroom. 3-14. New York, NY: W.W. Norton

Dowdy, J.K. (2002). Ovuh Dyuh. L. Delpit and J.K. Dowdy (Eds.) The skin that we speak: thoughts on language and culture in the classroom. 3-14. New York, NY: W.W. Norton

Gee, J.P. (1990). Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses. Critical perspectives on literacy and education. London: Falmer Press.

Hill, K.D. (2009) Code-switching pedagogies and African-American students voices: Acceptance and Resistance. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 52(3). 120-131.

Redd, T.M. and Webb, K.S. (2005) A teacher’s introduction to African-American English. Urbana, IL: National Council for Teachers of English.

Rickford, J.R. and Rickford, R.J. (2000). Spoken word: The story of black English. New York, NY: Wiley.

Smith, E. (2002). Ebonics: A Case History. L. Delpit and J.K. Dowdy (Eds.) The skin that we speak: thoughts on language and culture in the classroom. 3-14. New York, NY: W.W. Norton

Wolfram, W. (1999) Repercussions from the Oakland Ebonics controversy- The critical role of dialect awareness programs. In C.T. Adger, D. Christian & O. Taylor (eds.) Making the connection: Language and academic achievement among African-American students. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. 61-80.



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