Dialect Diversity and ESOL, Dr. Walt Wolfram

Outline

  1. Introduction
    1. What is the role of the dialects of English in teaching the (standard) English language?
    2. What is the role of English in teaching the (standard) English language?
    3. Language Acquisition
      "The learning and development of a person's language. The learning of a native or first language is called first language acquisition, and of a second or foreign language is called second language acquisition. The term 'acquisition' is often preferred to 'learning' because the latter term is sometimes linked to a behaviorist theory of learning " (Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics, p.197).
  2. Myths on Dialect and ESOL
    1. There is a monolithic standard English that can be taught in ESOL programs.
    2. Most ESL students live in a homogeneous dialect setting.
    3. Vernacular dialects are irrelevant to ESOL.
    4. ESL learners are more tolerant of dialect diversity than native English speakers.
    5. ESL programs have little to gain from incorporating programs about English dialects.
  3. Myth # 1
    1. Myth: There is a monolithic standard English that can be taught in ESOL programs.
    2. Reality: Dialect choices are inevitable in ESOL.
    3. Dialect
      A variety of language, spoken in one part of a country (regional dialect), or by people belonging to a particular social class (social dialect or sociolect), which is different in some words, grammar, and/or pronunciation from other forms of the same language. A dialect is often associated with a particular accent. Sometimes a dialect gains status and becomes the standard variety of a country" (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, p.107).
    4. ESL
      An abbreviation for English as a Second Language: The role of English for immigrant and other minority groups in English-speaking countries. These people may use their mother tongue at Tapestry Home or among friends, but use English at school and at work. This is sometimes called English for speakers of other languages, or ESOL (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, p.124, p.128).
    5. ESOL
      An abbreviation for English for speakers of other languages (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, p.128).
    6. Standard English / Standard / Standard Dialect

      The variety of a language which has the highest status in a community or nation and which is usually based on the speech and writing of educated native speakers of the language. A standard variety is generally

      1. used in the news media and literature.
      2. described in dictionaries and grammars.
      3. taught in schools and taught to non-native speakers when they learn the language as a foreign language.

      Sometimes it is the educated variety spoken in the political or cultural center of a country. (...) The standard variety of American English is known as Standard American English. These national standard varieties have differences in spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and particularly pronunciation, but there is a common language. This makes it possible for educated native speakers of the various national standard varieties of English to communicate with one another (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, p.351)

  4. Myth # 2
    1. Myth: Most ESOL students live in a homogeneous dialect setting.
    2. Reality: Most ESL students are surrounded by significant dialect diversity.
    3. African-American Vernacular English / Black Vernacular English / Black English
      "The variety of English spoken by some black Americans in the United States, particularly in the inner areas of cities like New York, Chicago, and Detroit. This variety is in many ways similar to the type of English spoken by Black Americans in the southern states of the USA and developed as a result of waves of migration of blacks from the south to the northern states. There are conflicting views on the origin of Black English. Some claim that it is similar to the variety of English spoken by whites in the southern states, others consider it to be a Creole, developed independently from Standard English. In American schools, Black English was slow to be recognized as a variety in its own right and children speaking it were considered to be uneducated and illiterate. But researchers have shown that Black English has a structure and system of its own. Some characteristics of Black English are: a. final consonants are sometimes deleted, for example: /h n/ hand b. the verb is not always marked for third person singular, for example: He know something c. the verb to be is not always used as a copular, particularly if it can be contracted in Standard English, for example: We on tape (We're on tape)" (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, p.31).
  5. Myth # 3
    1. Myth: Vernacular dialects are irrelevant to ESOL.
    2. Reality: Understanding vernacular dialect is critical to developing language skills.
    3. Interaction with different dialects may enhance comprehension and production for meaningful communication.
    4. Language Skills
      "(In language teaching) the mode or manner in which language is used. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are generally called the four language skills. Sometimes speaking and writing are called the active/ productive skills and reading and listening, the passive/receptive skills. Often the skills are divided into subskills, such as discriminating sounds in connected speech, or understanding relations within a sentence" (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, p.205).
  6. Myth # 4
    1. Myth: ESL learners are more tolerant of dialect diversity than native English speakers.
    2. Reality: ESL learners develop dialect prejudice similar to native speakers.
    3. Native Speaker
      "A person considered as a speaker of his or her native language. The intuition of a native speaker about the structure of his or her language is one basis for establishing or confirming the rules of the grammar. A native speaker is said to speak his or her native language 'natively'." (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, p.241)
  7. Myth # 5
    1. Myth: ESL programs have little to gain from incorporating programs about English dialects.
    2. Reality: There is much benefit theoretically and practically from dialect awareness programs.
  8. Prerequisites—What do I need in order to integrate dialect awareness into my teaching?
    1. Appreciation for dialect diversity
      1. Socio-psychological roles
      2. Contextual roles
    2. Background knowledge of dialect diversity
      1. Phonological
      2. Syntactical
      3. Discourse patterns
      4. Pragmatics
      5. Phonology
        "The establishment and description of the distinctive sound units of a language (phonemes) by means of distinctive features. Each phoneme is considered as consisting of a group of these features and differing in at least one feature from the other phonemes, e.g.
        /i:/ /u:/
        + high + high
        - low - low
        - back + back
        - round + round
        where the features + or - high, + or - low, + or - back refer to the position of the tongue in the mouth and + or - round to whether the lips are rounded or not. Phonology is also concerned with: a. the study of word-to-word relations in sentences; that is, how sound patterns are affected by the combination of words. For example, /gIv/ give and /hIm/ him may combine to /gIvIm/ give him. b. the investigation of intonation patterns" (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, p.275)
      6. Syntax
        "The study of how words combine to form sentences and the rules which govern the formation of sentences." (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, p.370)
      7. Discourse
        "A general term for examples of language use, i.e. language which has been produced as the result of an act of communication. Whereas grammar refers to the rules a language uses to form grammatical units such as clause, phrase, and sentence discourse refers to larger units of language such as paragraphs, conversations, and interviews. Sometimes the study of both written and spoken discourse is know as Discourse Analysis; some researchers however use discourse analysis to refer to the study of spoken discourse and Text Linguistics to refer to the study of written discourse." (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, p.111)
      8. Pragmatics
        "The study of the use of language in communication, particularly the relationships between sentences and the contexts and situations in which they are used. Pragmatics includes the study of: a. how the interpretation and use of utterances depends on knowledge of the real world b. how speakers use and understand speech acts c. how the structure of sentences is influenced by the relationship between the speaker and the hearer. Pragmatics is sometimes contrasted with Semantics, which deals with meaning without reference to the users and communicative functions of sentences." (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, p.284-5)
    3. Awareness of teaching methods
      1. Methods for teaching about dialects
      2. Fun, meaningful, and successful methods
    4. Knowledge of the community-based regional standards
      1. What are the local/regional norms?
      2. Norm
        "That which is considered appropriate in speech or writing for a particular situation or purpose within a particular group or community. The norm for an informal situation may be very different from the norm for a formal one. For example, in English, a first name (Joe) may be the norm for addressing people in an informal situation but title and surname (Mr. Smith) for a formal one" (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, p.248).
  9. The Rationale for a Dialect Awareness Program
    1. Humanistic Rationale: Dialect awareness as multiculturalism
    2. Scientific Rationale: Systematic pattern and organization of dialect
    3. Socio-Historic Rationale: Dialect as cultural history
    4. Equity Rationale: Dialect discrimination and equity
    5. Utilitarian Rationale: Dialect understanding and practical use
  10. Conclusion
    1. An effective dialect awareness program allows students to engage in the dialects of the "within community" and the "outside community" to prepare students to interact with all the manners and types of speakers of English.
    2. Video clips were taken from the film American Tongues. For ordering information call: 800-343-5540