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April 18 , 2008

Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools


In today’s culturally diverse classrooms, students possess and use many culturally, ethnically, and regionally diverse English language varieties that may differ from standardized English. This book helps classroom teachers become attuned to these differences and offers practical strategies to support student achievement while fostering positive language attitudes in classrooms and beyond. The text contrasts standardized varieties of English with Southern, Appalachian, and African American English varieties, focusing on issues that are of everyday concern to those who are assessing the linguistic competence of students. Featuring a narrative style with teaching strategies and discussion questions, this practical resource:

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  • Provides a clear, introductory explanation of what is meant by non-standard English, from both linguistic and educational viewpoints.
  • Emphasizes what educators needs to know about language variation in and outside of the classroom.
  • Addresses the social factors accompanying English language variation and how those factors interact in real classrooms.

“A landmark book. . . . It guides linguists and educators as we all work to apply our knowledge on behalf of those for whom it matters most: students.” 
—From the Afterword by Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University

“In the ongoing debate about language we typically hear arguments about what students say and/or how they say it. Finally, a volume that takes on the ‘elephant in the parlor’—WHO is saying it. By laying bare the complicated issues of race, culture, region, and ethnicity, Charity Hudley and Mallinson provide a scholarly significant and practically relevant text for scholars and practitioners alike. This is bound to be an important contribution to the literature.” 
Gloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“An invaluable guide for teachers, graduate students, and all lovers of language. The authors provide a comprehensive and fascinating account of Southern and African American English, showing how it differs from standardized English, how those differences affect children in the classroom, and how teachers can use these insights to better serve their students.” 
Deborah Tannen, University Professor and professor of linguistics, Georgetown University

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