ERIC Number: ED342008
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Black or Standard English: An African American Student's False Dilemma.
The debate about the use of Black English has been raging for many years, with no real solutions and few practical suggestions to help teachers and African-American students handle the situation in the classroom. Tensions are often heightened by misconceptions about Standard English--that it is a White man's language and necessary for success and that African-American students must surrender part of their culture to succeed. Americans equate being different with being ignorant and deprived, especially when it comes to the English language. Consequently, many African-American students are found in English remedial classes where most of them do not actually belong. Recognizing that there is a Black dialect as well as a standard one can be a starting point for educators to teach Standard English to African-American students as a second dialect. When students make mistakes in speaking and writing Standard English, they must realize that they are making mistakes in a dialect other than their own. College students are capable of understanding the differences if explanations follow. Small children are difficult to motivate using the logic of jobs and world communication, but not college students. In composition classes, personal conferences are very effective, and better for the students than remedial classes. Bidialectalism is an achievable goal at the college level--it is the functional value of the standard dialect that should be emphasized. Language and culture are inseparable. Students cannot be forced to choose, but the goal should be communication beyond the neighborhood. (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: African Americans; Educational Issues
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (81st, Seattle, WA, November 22-27, 1991).