Standard English Dialect Vs. Non Standard Dialect for English Language Learners
The United States is a culturally diverse nation. It is a country comprised of not only people of different ethnic backgrounds, but also with distinct dialects that are socially and ethnically related varieties of the same language. For example, there are those who speak English of upper-middle class New Yorkers and that of lower-class New Yorkers. Additionally, there are dialects that stem from different accents of people who immigrated into the country. Although most citizens of the United States speak with a dialect or accent, we tend to draw negative attention to those who speak differently than those who speak standard English (Parker & Riley, 2010). This form of language is known as nonstandard English. For example, an educated person who commands the standard English dialect might judge a speaker of a nonstandard English, that comes from a lower socioeconomic status, lacking education or is unintelligent. This negative social judgement impacts English Language Learners because the language spoken in schools are normally referred to as Standard English and often attempts to remove regionalism and accents, both in spoken and written language” (Adams, Michael and Ann Curzon, 2009).
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Although it is important to educate students in their new language standard dialect, teachers should not ignore their students’ dialects. Educators need to recognize that they show they value their students’ cultural and ethnic background so that learners do not feel alienated from their new country. Acceptance helps establish student empowerment and confidence to learn the new language and assimilate to the new culture.Â However, there are certain situations that teachers should allow non-native English speakers to use their dialects and certain situations when students must be required to use standard English. Teachers must demonstrate when is the right time students should use their own dialects and when they should employ standard American English dialect.
There are many ways to incorporate student dialect into the classroom. For example, students can be encouraged to do a research language project on dialect that requires them to interact within two different communities, their own and a community that predominantly uses Standard English. They can participate in a volunteer program that allows them to interact in these communities. As students perform their volunteer duty, they should also be cognizant on listening to how people speak in these communities and write down their observations. They can prepare to do a presentation that describes how individuals pronounce the same words in different ways. They should compare their own dialects with those of standard English. This assignment would allow English language learners to reflect upon their own language skills and improve acquiring the English language and the American standard English dialect. The teacher can ask administration for assistance in organizing these volunteer assignments or take the initiative to coordinate one on their own.
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Another way to incorporate teaching Standard English dialect is to educate students on stylistic registers, which is the different ways we speak depending on the social situation. For example, we speak differently when we are on an interview.Â We might ask “When shall I expect feedback from our interview,” when speaking to a potential employer or your boss, versus “When will you call me back?” when speaking to a colleague or friend.Â Stylistic registers occur daily in students’ lives. Students speak differently from how they speak to their teachers from how they speak to their peers or to their parents.
It is important for English language learners to be able to decipher when to navigate speaking in their own dialects to when it is required of them to speak the standard American English dialect. Having students reflect on their own dialect through and showing them how to navigate through different speech patterns is essential to understanding Standard American English.
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