NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ976246
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 55
ISSN: ISSN-0950-0782
Understanding Children's Non-Standard Spoken English: A Perspective from Variationist Sociolinguistics
Levey, Stephen
Language and Education, v26 n5 p405-421 2012
In order for schools to develop systematic and realistic strategies for extending children's linguistic repertoires, it is imperative that teachers and allied professionals have access to scientifically informed accounts of the variable but structured nature of the everyday speech used by children. Because there is insufficient information addressing grammatical variability in school children's speech, it is easy for teachers to misinterpret normal social patterns of variation as the product of error or confusion. This article addresses the lacuna in our understanding of grammatical variation in childhood by presenting a case study of variable subject-verb agreement in the speech of children aged between seven and 11. A detailed quantitative analysis of the co-variation between non-standard and standard variants in children's discourse reveals a heterogeneous, but intricately patterned, system. Furthermore, socially motivated patterns of variation remain stable across the age range examined and are unaffected by increasing exposure to formal education. The tenacity of vernacular norms raises a number of important issues pertinent to the teaching and learning of standard spoken English, including the extent to which children can be expected to substitute standard variants for non-standard ones in spontaneous discourse. (Contains 4 figures, 10 notes, and 2 tables.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada