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Title: Communicating about Communication: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Educating Edu
Author(s): Christine Mallinson , Anne H. Charity Hudley
Journal Title: Language and Linguistics Compass
Volume: 4
Issue: 4
Page Range: 245-257
Publication Date: Mar-2010
Abstract: The quest to educate non-standardized English-speaking students has been a primary driving force behind developments in many fields represented by Compass journals, including sociology, geography, linguistics, psychology, history, literature, and education. Academics engaged in these multiple perspectives must join together, both to communicate knowledge about language variation to educators and to learn from educators’ experiences with teaching non-standardized English-speaking students. Following the conference theme of breaking down barriers, we draw on research gathered from multidisciplinary approaches to educational analysis by developing a linguistic awareness model that is designed to facilitate the sharing of knowledge about language variation between educators and researchers. Our model currently addresses three U.S.-based English language varieties: School English, Southern English, and African-American English. Drawing on these models, we highlight best teaching practices that can help non-standardized English-speaking students break down communication barriers to educational success in the pre-collegiate classroom. We draw on previous endeavors by academics to communicate information about language variation to wider audiences, noting two important challenges: the need to couple language variation awareness with readily accessible, specific examples of language variation and the need to provide information about how to work with language variation within the increasingly diverse classroom. We contend that only with this specific knowledge can educators use linguistic information to help students from non-standardized English-speaking backgrounds achieve in schools. Otherwise, educators may not appreciate the relevance and immediate necessity of the information. In our linguistic awareness model, we suggest realistic, cost effective ways to approach educators, including certification and re-certification courses, in-service workshops, websites, and wikis. A wiki of materials to accompany this paper may be found at We also suggest future directions for linguistically aware educators to become resources for information on language variation and linguistic tolerance in their own schools and communities. This paper was originally presented as part of the 2009 Compass Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference. You can read this paper along with commentaries and discussion at:

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Mallinson & Charity Hudsley   by Jennifer Sullivan , 10-Aug-11
I strongly support the authors' goal of bringing academics from different fields together and making better channels of communication between academics and educators in relation to language variation in the classroom. Thus their development of the Linguistic Awareness model is very important. The authors argue that language and communication are key factors in the under-achievement at school of many students who speak non-standard varieties of English. Unfortunately though, the authors do not give details of studies that show exactly why this is the case. To their credit they refer to the research by Labov and others revealing Student Identity Practices being stifled and Teacher Bias against non-standard varieties. However, their stance on the following issues is very unclear in this article: how to promote standard English without degrading other varieties; what criteria should be used to distinguish between a non-stan dard variety and a deficient variety. The authors state openly that students' prospects in life are better if they use standard English. The crucial question though is whether the authors can successfully balance this against their wish to respect non-standard varieties. The book they have written for teachers is a very welcome addition to the literature. The authors try to move away from the stigmatized features of non-standard varieties and emphasise the beneficial aspects of standard varieties. It seems that the authors are trying to have it both ways and I am not entirely convinced by this. The authors' reference to works showing the "linguistic conflict" that may occur when students "do not sound like their educators" is fascinating. When the authors write of "standardized tests" being unfairly harsh on students' use of non-standard features, it is unclear what "overpenalize" actually means. It is important for the authors to expose that students who speak African-American English may receive poorer quality instruction because teachers have assumed lower intelligence in these students and because teachers do not know how to deal with this variety of English in the classroom. However, the references given are to very old studies. I am strongly supportive of the workshops held by linguists for teachers but I think we need to be clear on exactly what the goals of these workshops were. The authors' goal of detailing "a multi-disciplinary model of linguistic awareness bringing together linguists, other academics and educators" is very laudable but it is a shame that this article contains very few specific details of this model.
Communicating about Communication: Multidisciplina   by Schart , 14-Jul-11
After reading this article, I was a bit disappointed in how superficial it was but also how it didn't advance the field/contribute new information. While I think the book being promoted is excellent for informing teachers and others about non-standard dialects, I'd like to see more critical analysis of the data. Using a critical theory to go beyond reporting facts from the literature review, it would be nice to see the authors go beyond "students are blamed for their language and that's wrong" to something deeper in how that has come about and how we move beyond it. This is a good beginner article for someone new to the area, I think the authors' knowledge and contributions to the field should be better reflected.
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