Standard And Non Standard Dialects In The Classroom

1724 words - 7 pages

Standard vs. Nonstandard Dialects in the Classroom
In recent years, American school systems have had much problems dealing with students who speak in a dialect of non-standard English. In the article, “The Study of Nonstandard English,” author, William Labov, raises a topic of special interest, in which he examines the relationship of teachers and speakers of non-standard English within the classroom setting. According to Labov’s main argument, “nonstandard English is a system of rules, different from the standard but not necessarily inferior as a means of communication.” The author does a great job stating the problems faced by the urban ghettos in educational systems, and effectively ...view middle of the document...

The second section of the article addresses the grammatical rules of suburban ghetto dialects and its relativity to Standard English. The author uses specific examples of syntax and semantics in nonstandard English as related to those of Standard English to present the nature of language and the principles that have emerged form sociolinguistics research over the past decade. Nonetheless, Standard English is being taught in school, and serves it’s an integral role of the school system to teach Standard English in the curriculum when it comes to reading and writing. Finally, Labov’s only hope in this article is to make teachers more informed about nonstandard dialects and it’s structures as related to Standard English. This will keep them in touch with their students’ dialect and in a ripple effect, will allow both the student and teacher to make full use of the teaching materials.
The author, Labov, does a great job stating the problems faced by the urban ghetto students in educational systems in America, and effectively give a guideline of grammatical rules used in non-standard English speakers to support his arguments, which states that nonstandard English is by no means inferior to Standard English. Rather than offering something different, Labov’s articles looks directly at nonstandard English not as a separate language but as a fundamental part of English language itself. Everybody speaks in a dialect. Given the definition which states that, “dialects are mutually intelligible forms of a language that differ in systematic ways” (430), it is conceived from the definition that dialect of nonstandard English should not be degraded since it’s mutually intelligible meaning that both parties in a discourse is able to understand each other.
Aferican American Vernacular English (AAVE) is mutually intelligible but because of syntactic and semantics of the grammatical rules governing this dialect, it may spark problems between of comprehension. Black dialect is rich in slangs, which are words or phrases that are invented and are not standard American English. Problems may arise when the teacher is unable to comprehend what the student speaks or even writes. According to Labov, Teachers should be able to understand the vernacular of nonstandard students in order to minimize problems that may seem prejudice against these students. For instance, ‘I’ and ‘e’ phonetics are the same sound and “He tired” is the vernacular contracted from “he’s tired.” Labov states that simply having knowledge of the phonetics and syntax of vernacular would save both the students and teacher frustration and time. This doesn’t make nonstandard English inferior or degraded to Standard American English because every body speaks in his/her or own idiolect (the individual’s dialect is mirrored in the way he/she speaks and the grammar that individual uses).
To appreciate a student’s idiolect, the teacher must understand the system rules, which govern nonstandard...

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