Vernacular - Do you or do you not correct?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jerseygirlteach, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Sep 29, 2012

    I teach in a district that is predominately Latino and African-American. During orientation, the principal of one of the schools gave a speech saying basically that he grew up speaking "ebonics" and he doesn't correct students who do the same because it's disrespectful to their culture. However, I think it's my responsibility to teach conventional English to my students. Won't they generally be more successful if they speak "correctly"?

    What do you think?
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Sep 29, 2012

    As long as they're in my classroom, I would want them to speak 'correctly'. There is a time and place for correct English and cultural speak. This could be the intro to a lesson on informal/formal language.
     
  4. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Sep 29, 2012

    I would tell them there is a proper time to use conventional/standard English. Just like you wouldn't speak French when giving a presentation to Americans, you probably shouldn't use ebonics with people who may not understand what you mean. You could tell them it's okay to use it in the lunchroom but not in the classroom.

    I do correct my students when I hear them speaking incorrectly during class. "Seen" is the big one where I am. I would also make sure your students know you're not looking down on their language and that you're just helping them communicate more effectively with you. I know I wouldn't completely understand ebonics. We studied it in college a bit and I think it's important they realize you respect their heritage. I always tell my kids that unless they want me to respond in French, they should probably use conventional English ;)
     
  5. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Teach them code switching. I told my kids that the way I talk to my friends would be different from the way I talked in a job interview. We had some fun modeling it. It's not that there's something wrong with the way anyone speaks...it's just inappropriate for certain situations. That being said, I did not correct them ALL the time. If we were having a deep discussion about something that my nitpicking would totally ruin, I let it go. If we were writing essays or something, obviously they had to use "school talk."
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sep 29, 2012

    Based on my experiences, my African American students have two specific issues I always address. The first will seem silly, but I encountered it every year: bafoom instead of bathroom. And then we had double negatives...man, that was a tough one, but it was very rewarding when they would speak, start to use a double negative, and then correct themselves without a peep from my end. :)

    I don't pick apart everything my students say...that would be a huge roadblock to discussions and learning in general.
     
  7. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Sep 29, 2012

    I don't use the phrase "correctly" when referring to speech. I tell them that I will teach them "formal" or "academic" English and expect it when they communicate with me in the classroom.
     
  8. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Sep 29, 2012

    I agree with the above, teach them about formal and informal language. School is a place for a more formal language, different than with friends. However, I wouldn't correct them in class in front of their friends or let it block them from class discussions.
     
  9. msufan

    msufan Comrade

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    Sep 29, 2012

    The past few responses nailed it. I would add that I also ask the students not to say iffy phrases like "Oh my God" or "What the..." because this is a formal learning environment, and those phrases don't belong in our classroom. That helps it to not feel like I'm only picking on vernacular issues.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Sep 29, 2012

    Once they enter the classroom they are in the world of education and in the world of education in America, we speak proper English correctly. This is true all the way up to university level. If they are not properly prepared, they will not do well. So they can speak however they want in a conversational context during lunch or breaks, but once they enter the classroom they should be expected to conform to the "culture" of education.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Language can vary by situation. Ebonics, slang, and other casual communications may serve a person well with friends, family and neighborhood members. Teaching proper Englsh and using it well help facilitate success in school, work and more formal situations. Your principal surely wasn't speaking Ebonics when he addressed the parents, was he?
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sep 29, 2012

    Like others, I address the issue as "code-switching". We agree to speak a certain way in our classroom so that we all can understand what everyone is trying to say.

    I do sometimes correct students on their use of language in my classroom, but in a passive or humorous way.

    Student: He don't got no pen.
    Me: He don't got no pen?
    Student: *eyeroll* He doesn't have a pen.
    Me: Aaaah, he doesn't have a pen. Okay, well then he needs to find a pen.

    I find that they have an easier time identifying their own use of language when they hear me parrot them. It helps them make the connection that people use language in different ways depending on their setting and their audience. To them it sounds strange for me to talk like they do, so it sort of clicks with them that they need to code-switch in this setting.
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Sep 30, 2012

    Yup, we go through the formal, informal, and nonstandard lesson. Formal is required in writing; informal required in speech; nonstandard is for home.

    I do the "ain't" lesson with them. Technically, "ain't" is the proper contraction for "am not" which makes "I ain't..." correct, informal English. But it's generally not accepted by society, so it falls into the category of nonstandard English. Then they go off and find words or phrases they commonly use at home and "translate" it into informal and formal English.
     
  14. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Sep 30, 2012

    I don't formally address this issue except in writing. I always help students edit their writing to reflect correct English. In the classroom when students say things incorrectly, I simply repeat what they said, but correctly. It affirms that I am listening, shows them the correct way to say the sentence and does not put down the student for speaking differently. Once kids hear the way words should flow, they often start to pick up and use correct English. The written word is much different. I do talk about how things need to be written in standard English. Keep in mind, it is often an uphill battle especially for young children that are getting the opposite reinforcement at home. Just remember, we can only do so much. Those highly motivated kids pick up the ball and run with it. Those students that live with that kind of speaking from family and peers have little motivation to make them actually want to code switch. In the end, when kids want to have more elaborate conversations and begin the tedious task of expanding their vocabulary through conversations and more advanced reading, they eventually do this naturally without the assistance of a teacher constantly stopping their thoughts to correct what they feel are valid ideas. Doing that might teach a child that what the have to say is not worth listening to. We don't ever want that.
     

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