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Future Educators' Perceptions of African American Vernacular English (AAVE)



Teachers are responsible for educating students'. Unfortunately, many teachers, however, are not prepared to meet the increasing need of the students' population that they encounter in the classroom. One area in which teachers do not receive adequate training is language diversity. In particular, African American Vernacular English is often an unfamiliar language for many educators. This study employed a language attitude scale to assess the attitudes toward African American Vernacular English of pre-service teachers in a multicultural, undergraduate education course. The findings revealed that European American students expressed a belief that African American Vernacular English is a negative and inferior dialect of English, while African American and Hispanic students expressed more favorable views of African American Vernacular English. The study suggests that pre-service teachers should receive training on the different dialects of English that students may speak in the classroom.
ISSN 2277-0860; Volume 1, Issue 5, pp 80-89; August, 2012.
Online Journal of Education Research
©2012 Online Research Journals
Full Length Research
Available Online at
Future Educators’ Perceptions of African American
Vernacular English (AAVE)
Dr. Tempii B. Champion1*, Dr. Deirdre Cobb-Roberts2, Dr. Linda Bland- Stewart3
1Department of Communication Disorders, Long Island University-Brooklyn Campus, Brooklyn, NY, USA.
2Department of Social Foundations of Education, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA.
3Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA.
Downloaded 11 July, 2012 Accepted 18 August, 2012
Teachers are responsible for educating students’. Unfortunately, many teachers, however, are not
prepared to meet the increasing need of the students’ population that they encounter in the classroom.
One area in which teachers do not receive adequate training is language diversity. In particular, African
American Vernacular English is often an unfamiliar language for many educators. This study employed
a language attitude scale to assess the attitudes toward African American Vernacular English of pre-
service teachers in a multicultural, undergraduate education course. The findings revealed that
European American students expressed a belief that African American Vernacular English is a negative
and inferior dialect of English, while African American and Hispanic students expressed more favorable
views of African American Vernacular English. The study suggests that pre-service teachers should
receive training on the different dialects of English that students may speak in the classroom.
Keywords: Language diversity, educators, language attitude scale, pre-service teachers, AAVE.
Currently, minority population account for approximately
24% of the total population, and over the next ten (10)
years, they are projected to increase by 30%. The US
Bureau of Census [1] estimate that by 2050, more than
47% of the total US population will be of non-European
origin. In 1989, the Children's Defense Fund [2] predicted
that by 2030, the populations of Hispanic or Latino
children will increase by 5.5 million and African American
children by 2.6 million, while the population of European
American children will decrease by 6.2 million. The 1990
US census showed that the population of individuals from
culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (i.e.,
African American, Asian American, Hispanic, and Native
American populations) exceeded 60 million. Nearly a
decade later, the US Bureau of the Census [1] reported
that African American and Hispanic individuals
constituted 15% of population in 1998 and were projected
to comprise, respectively, 15% and 16% of the population
by the year 2000. This report also projected that by 2010,
*Corresponding Author's E-mail:
the number of African Americans would increase to 16%
of the population and Hispanics to 19%. According to the
US Bureau of the Census [1] 12.5% of the population
were identified as Hispanic and 12.3% as African
American; additionally, 3.6% were identified as Asian
native, and 0.9% as Native American. Although these
figures are lower than anticipated, it remains that minority
populations represent a significant proportion of the US
population, which will present important challenges to
future teachers in the education sector with regard to
educating the students’.
In the state of Florida, the office of strategic planning [3]
identified several significant trends in the supply of
minority teachers and the ethnic compositions of their
classrooms. According to this report, the two largest
minority groups represented were African Americans and
Hispanics. From 1977 to 1991, the ratio of African
American teachers to African American students was
25.7:29.4 to one. According to the reported findings for
Fall 1991, 24% of the students in Florida’s public school
classrooms were African American compared with only
14.5% of classroom teachers. Among the total number of
students graduating from teacher education programs at
state universities, the proportion of African American
students is only 2.7%. Unfortunately, more recent data
could not be obtained as the state ceased reporting
teacher shortages in the same manner.
Florida is characterized by a unique diversity of school
districts providing Special Education Service (SES) to
urban and rural populations. The University of South
Florida (USF) serves a large service area of fifteen (15)
school districts. These districts ranges from those among
the largest in both the state and the nation, to those, on
the other extreme, that are among the state’s smallest.
For example, the Florida Department of Education,
Division of Public Schools, Bureau of Education for
Exceptional Students [4] reported that the PL 94-142
entitlement for districts within the USF service area for
the 1996-97 fiscal year ranges from a high of 27,295
exceptional students in Hillsborough County to a low of
167 in Glades School District. In contrast to the
exceedingly large numbers of children served in
Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, more remote districts
(i.e., Hernando, Hardee, Hendry, Glades, Desoto, and
Charlotte), located one to two hours away from Tampa,
serve only a fraction of their numbers. In such rural
areas, although student populations are smaller, student-
teacher ratios are often larger, resulting in far less
desirable working conditions and a consequent exodus of
existing teachers to larger school districts. The diverse
populations of children served by these larger districts
bring to the classroom their different languages and
dialects, including African American Vernacular English
(AAVE). However, the majority of the teachers in such
districts are prepared to teach only students who speak
mainstream English, and there are few teacher education
programs that focus on specific issues related to different
dialect in the classroom. Although existing research has
examined teacher attitudes toward students from different
language and dialect backgrounds, including AAVE, as well
as, the impact of teachers’ attitudes and knowledge of
language diversity on students’ academic performance,
there has been little research exploring how teachers’
attitudes toward dialect diversity may differ at various
stages of teacher training and practice. The primary purpose
of this study is to examine the attitudes of pre-service
teachers at USF toward African American Vernacular
This section presents a brief overview of the definition
and characteristics of African American Vernacular
English followed by a description of studies of language
attitudes toward AAVE. Linguists have defined African
American Vernacular English as culturally, an appropriate
term to refer to the language used by some (but not all)
African Americans. This type of English is a systematic
Champion et al. 81
rule-governed dialect of Standard American English (SAE).
AAVE is also known as Black English Vernacular, Ebonics,
Black English, African American English Vernacular, and
nonstandard English. Speakers of AAVE vary in their use
of this dialect. Some individuals speak in AAVE without
exception, while others may code-switch between SAE
and AAVE, depending on the situation and the audience.
Table 1 lists the most salient features of AAVE.
Previous Research of Language Attitudes
AAVE and perceptions of its speakers have been hotly
debated over the last 40 years. Previous studies [5-11]
have proved that African American Vernacular English is
governed by its own rules and that children know these
rules by the time they enter school. Knowledge of these
rules reflects linguistic competence of their dialect as well
as SAE. Seymour et al. [12] demonstrated that African
American children who use AAVE are not in language
disordered or academically or cognitively incompetent.
In spite of such research, the language that African
American children speak in the classroom is devalued in
the school setting because of its lack of conformity with
the teachers language and language expectations.
Research findings indicating the disproportionate number
of AAVE speakers in special education raise the question
of whether educators who work in urban areas with this
population are competent to work with children from
culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds [13,14].
For example, Artiles et al. [14] reported that African
Americans represented 2.54% of children labeled as
mentally retarded, five times the number of Asian/Pacific
Islanders and more than twice the number of European
American children in special education.
The expectations, beliefs, and attitudes of educators
can affect more than referrals to special education
services. They can shape the way other educators
respond to and instruct children. One study found that
when teachers hold high expectations for students they
make demands on those students that improve their
classroom performance. Such demands include
frequently calling on the students, pressing them to
respond to questions, and holding the students to stricter
performance standards [15]. Entwisle and Alexander [15]
also demonstrated that when teachers have low
expectations or a deficit view of children from diverse
cultural and linguistic backgrounds, teacher-student
interaction is reduced to the management of behavior,
which contributes little to the improvement of academic
performance. The negative attitudes and beliefs of
teachers also can impact the type of literacy instruction
that students receive. Cecil [16] examined teachers
attitudes toward African American students who spoke
AAVE and Standard English (SE). In a study involving
two groups of children, one of AAVE speakers, the other
of SE speakers, (five children in each, matched for grade,
82 Online J. Edu. Res.
Table 1. Syntactic and Morphological Characteristics of African American Vernacular English
Regular past tense marking (-ed) is not obligatory and is
sometimes omitted.
“And this car crash”
Irregular past tense is marked on some verbs and not on others.
“And then them fall”
Regular and irregular third person marking is not obligatory.
“He go yesterday.”
Future tense is often marked with gonna rather than will
“She gonna call the doctor if he got a fever.”
When will is contracted, its pronunciation may be reduced.
When will is required before be in SAE, it may be deleted in AAVE.
“I be home later.”
Contractible forms of copula and auxiliary be verbs are not
obligatory, though uncontractible forms are obligatory.
“He here.”
“Is he here?”
Perfect tense is expressed by been to denote action completed
in the distant past.
“She been gone.”
Habitual state of verbs is marked with uninflected be, compared
with SAE’s use of adverbs and inflected forms of be.
“She be workin’ two jobs.”
Double modals are allowed in AAVE.
“We might could go.”
Plurals are not obligatory when quantifiers are present.
“He has two dollar.”
Possessives are not obligatory when word order expresses
“He hit the man car.”
Pronominal apposition (noun followed by pronoun).
“My mother she home.”
Reflexive pronoun forms are regularized so that all reflexive
forms are produced by adding -self to a possessive pronoun
“hisself” and “theyself”
Relative pronouns are not obligatory in most cases (in SAE only
the that form is optional).
“He the one stole it.”
These here and Them there combinations used.
“These her cars.”
Them substituted for forms used in SAE (these, those).
“I want them shoes.”
Endings -er and -est can be added to most adjectives.
“baddest,” “worser”
More and most can be combined with superlative and
comparative markers.
“most smartest”
Double and triple negative markers may be used.
“I don’t got no brothers.”
Ain’t is used as a negative marker.
“Why she ain’t comin’?”
Indirect questions are produced with the same form as direct
“Do you know what is it?”
A clause beginning with “if” in SAE is produced with “do” in and
indirect question in AAVE.
“I want to know do you want to play with us?”
Sources [36-42]
SES, intelligence, and gender), 52 second-grade
teachers were asked to listen to tapes of the recorded
speech of both groups. A Likert scale measured attitudes
toward the dialect spoken by the children, rated from 1
(very low) to 5 (very high) was employed. A t-test
indicated a significant difference between teachers’
attitudes toward the two groups. The author concluded
that the teachers held higher expectations for African
American children who spoke standard English,
perceived children who spoke standard English as more
intelligent than those who spoke AAVE, and assigned
higher reading ability to children who spoke SE.
In another study by Washington et al. [17], the authors
examined interactions between second-grade teachers
with varying degrees of knowledge of AAVE and their
responses to children who spoke AAVE. Two second-
grade African American teachers in two schools in a low-
SES neighborhood were selected for the study. From the
first teacher, a total of 33 students participated; 17 of
which are African American and 16 are Hispanic. From
the second teacher, a total of 26 students participated;
21of which are African American and 5 are Hispanic.
Based on classroom observations of the teachers, the
authors identified patterns in the teachers’ interactions
during reading sessions with the students who spoke
AAVE. Teacher one, who was less knowledgeable about
AAVE, gave more non-supportive responses to students’
miscues during reading. However, teacher two, who
possessed more knowledge of AAVE, gave more
supportive responses to the students in her classroom.
In conclusion, the authors argued that teachers’ ability to
recognize dialect influences on reading and to respond
appropriately is essential for effective reading instruction.
Koch et al. [18] examined African American adults
perceptions of African Americans who use black English,
standard English, and code switching. In the study,
African American undergraduates were asked to listen to
four audiotapes of an African American speaker using
black English, standard English, and code switching and
to rate the speaker using the revised speech dialect
attitude. The post-hoc test revealed participants
preference to work with either the standard English
speaker or the code-switching speaker.
Boyd [19] studied classroom climate and teacher
attitudes toward AAVE. The study participants included
72 parents and 504 students from grades 2-6 in
elementary schools. The language attitude scale was
administered to the teachers. To assess student
perception of classroom climate, My Class Inventory was
administered to all student participants. Findings
indicated that teachers overall had a negative attitude
toward AAVE, but that African American teachers held
more favorable views than European American teachers.
Although linguists have asserted that AAVE is a dialect,
many in the education community and beyond have not
accepted AAVE’s legitimacy as a dialect. Students who
Champion et al. 83
speak AAVE are continued to be labeled inferior, as they
were in the 1960s, revealing the continued need to
educate teachers about language and dialect diversity
and legitimacy. In addition, teaching philosophy and
pedagogy should embrace all dialects spoken by
In light of existing research indicating that teacher
attitudes toward AAVE have changed minimally in 40
years and that a disproportionate number of AAVE
speakers are referred to special education, the aim of this
study is to assess pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward
children who are AAVE speakers. The following
hypotheses, based upon existing research on the
attitudes of practicing teachers, guided this study: A) Pre-
service teachers attitude of students who speak AAVE
are negative; and B) African American pre-service
teachers view students who speak AAVE more favorably
than pre-service teachers from other ethnic groups.
Multicultural Education Class Population
A university located in southeast Florida has offered for
the past eight years, a state mandated course titled
Teaching Diverse Populations. This course is required
for all students in the state of Florida who are interested
in obtaining a bachelor’s degree in education and is a
prerequisite to pursuing admittance to the College of
As a mandatory course for prospective pre-service
teachers, the course had a high student enrollment. The
student population, although primarily white and female,
was somewhat diverse, in ways both visibly identifiable
(related to race, ethnicity, gender, and age) and less
recognizable (related to social class, exceptionality,
sexual orientation, and religion).
Participants were 136 undergraduate, pre-service
education majors, selected from two sections of an
undergraduate course titled Teaching Diverse
Populations. The sample population was 75% female
(n=102) and 23.5% male (n=32); 1.5% (n=2) did not
provide any gender. Participants were predominantly of
European American origin (76.5%; n=104), although
approximately 8.1% (n=11) were African American, 8.8%
(n=12)% Hispanic, and 4.4% (n=6) “other”; 2.2% (n=) left
the category blank.
The instrument used in this study was a modified version
of the Language Attitude Scale (LAS). [19,20] (See
84 Online J. Edu. Res.
Appendix A.) Surveys required indication of gender,
race/ethnicity, year in school/pre-service program, and
prior teaching experience. To protect participants’
anonymity, names were not required. The instrument
consisted of 25 Likert scale questions, rated on a 4-point
scale: strongly disagree (1), disagree (2), agree (3), and
strongly agree (4). There were 15 questions examining
the pre-service teachers general attitude toward AAVE;
the remaining 10 questions addressed the pre-service
teachers’ perceptions of AAVE as a legitimate dialect for
use in an academic setting. There were three open-
ended questions examining whether AAVE and its
legitimacy as a dialect had been addressed in pre-service
teachers educational training. The questionnaire was
assessed for internal reliability and was found to be
highly reliable, with a Cronbach’s alpha value of .93.
The modified LAS was administered to the participants
on the first day of class for two sections of the Teaching
Diverse Populations course. Participants were instructed
to complete the survey anonymously and were provided
no further information about the survey. Participants were
not given a time limit; however, all participants completed
the survey in approximately 20 minutes. The survey was
returned to the second author for data entry.
The survey results (n=136) were compiled and entered
into Microsoft Excel for later data analysis. Total scores
across all racial groups were used for data analysis. The
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS-16)
was used to analyze the data.
As previously stated, 75% of the sample population
was female (n=102), 23.5 % male (n=32), and 1.5% (n=2)
unknown. The students were mainly of European
American origin, 76.5 % (n=104), although approximately
8.1% (n=11) were African American, 8.8% (n=12)
Hispanic, and 4.4% (n=6) “other”; 2.2% (n=) left the
category blank.
The survey data were first analyzed to assess pre-
service teachers attitudes toward AAVE. Of the 136
respondents to the survey, 85%, or 116 respondents,
perceived AAVE negatively, supporting our hypothesis
that pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward AAVE are
negative. The data were also aggregated and tested for
differences based on gender; this revealed no significant
difference between men and women in their attitudes
toward AAVE. The survey responses were also examined
for correlation between race or ethnic group and attitude
toward AAVE, using a one-way analysis of variance
(ANOVA) between and within groups to determine the
correlation between ethnicity/race on the mean score.
The data revealed a significant effect of race on
perception of AAVE, F (3,123) = 3.53, p < .03. A post-hoc
LSD test was subsequently conducted to test for
differences between ethnic groups. The results indicated
a difference between African Americans and European
Americans. There was, however, no significant difference
between African Americans and either Hispanics or other
ethnic groups. In addition, the data revealed no
significant difference between Hispanic and European
Americans and other ethnic groups.
This study sought to examine the attitudes of pre-service
teachers toward AAVE. Analysis of the data collected
from a modified Language Attitude Scale revealed two
general findings that supported our original hypotheses.
First, the results showed that AAVE is viewed negatively
by USF pre-service teachers, overall and irrespective of
gender. Secondly, the results indicated that African
American pre-service teachers are less likely than their
European American counterparts to view AAVE
negatively. These findings are consistent with the results
of earlier studies examining teacher attitudes toward
AAVE. For example, Boyd [19] demonstrated both that
overall teachers had a negative attitude toward AAVE
and that African American teacher expressed more
favorable responses than European American teachers.
Another study [16] examining teacher attitudes toward
AAVE indicated that teachers held lower expectations of
children who spoke AAVE, considered them less
intelligent than their SAE-speaking peers, and assigned
them a lower expected reading ability than to children
who spoke SAE. Although the present study investigated
pre-service teachers’ perceptions of AAVE and not the
intelligence or aptitude of students who speak AAVE, our
study does offer some, if limited, indication of pre-service
teachers’ perceptions about AAVE-speaking children.
As noted above, the results of the current study
indicated that African American pre-service teachers’
perceptions of AAVE were positive, based on a
statistically significant difference in attitudes of African
American participants compared with those of other
ethnic groups. This finding was consistent with Boyd’s
study of teacher attitudes toward AAVE. However, our
finding appears to contradict a number of other previous
studies, which indicated that African Americans have
negative attitudes toward AAVE. For example, a study by
Koch et al [18] indicated that African American college
students expressed a preference to work with Standard
English speakers and Code Switching speakers over
speakers of African American Vernacular English.
Further, the results of a study by Payne et al [21]
indicated that African American students preferred
listening to Standard English. Finally, Washington et al
[17] found that the degree to which an African American
teacher is knowledgeable about AAVE impacted the
degree of learning encouragement given to children who
speak AAVE. Our results may differ because participants
in this study were enrolled in a course preparing students
to teach diverse populations and may have been more
sensitive to this issue.
This study may be limited in both its internal and external
validity. The study’s internal validity may be compromised
by the potential unreliability of participants’ survey
responses. Participants self-reported their responses to
questions related to attitudes toward and training in
AAVE. The participants may have edited their responses
to conform to opinions they deemed more socially
acceptable. The researcher’s race and ethnicity may also
have compromised the study’s interval validity.
Participants may have self-edited their responses to
survey questions in a way that they believed was suitable
given the researcher’s race and ethnicity.
The study’s external validity may also be compromised.
First, the sample population this study was limited to two
sections of the Teaching Diverse Populations course at a
large urban research university in the southeast US. The
course is required in the state of Florida for all
prospective entrants to the college of education and can
be taken at any two-year or four-year institution in the
state. Students enrolled in the course sections included in
the present study were of traditional college age, and the
findings are limited to the responses by this sample
population. If the survey were administered to students
enrolled in the same course at a community college,
where students are typically older, the results may differ
from those presented here. Furthermore, the findings are
limited to the sample population of students required to
enroll in the Teaching Diverse Populations course at an
institution of higher learning located in the state of
Florida. The findings may not apply to other geographic
locations and sample populations that are not required to
take this course. The findings of this study should not be
generalized to all pre-service teachers or colleges of
education. Future research should include a survey of
other states and teacher education programs.
Research on teacher attitudes about African American
Vernacular English has revealed that teachers’
perceptions of AAVE speakers have remained
consistently negative over the last 40 years. The present
study contributes to the findings of this existing research
on the attitudes of practicing teachers, an examination of
the attitudes toward AAVE of undergraduate pre-service
teachers, that is, teachers in training. This contribution is
Champion et al. 85
significant because the results of this and other studies of
pre-service teachers can inform curriculum in teacher
preparation courses and thereby the attitudes and
behavior of future teachers, especially their attitudes
toward and expectations of speakers of AAVE.
Our study revealed that pre-service teachers, like their
established and practicing counterparts, held a
predominantly negative view of AAVE. In light of existing
research indicating that teacher expectations impact the
quality of students’ learning opportunities [22] and that
low teacher expectation contributes significantly to the
underachievement of African American children [23]
especially in the area of reading [24], these negative
attitudes toward the language spoken by many African
American children should be a grave concern for teacher
education programs, if they aim (as they should) to train
graduates who promote the academic success of all
students, not only speakers of SAE. In response to the
generally low academic achievement observed in African
American student populations, Van Keulan et al. [25]
proposed four key cultural characteristics that negatively
affect the performance of African American students’ in
schools; 1) African Americans have a distinctly different
culture with its own dialect and child rearing practices
[26]; 2) America’s schools do not recognize or utilize
African American students’ competencies for teaching,
learning, and testing; 3) overrepresentation of African
American students in special education is directly related
to cultural discontinuity between students and teachers,
home and school environment, curriculum and learning;
and 4) assessment instruments and practices used to
evaluate African Americans are inherently biased.
Research, including the present study, demonstrating
specifically the negative attitudes held by both current
and future teachers about the linguistic culture of African
American students’ suggests that African American
students’ in general and African American students’ who
speak AAVE in particular are at risk for educational
failure. In order to counter the tendency for failure by
speakers of AAVE, the authors propose that teachers
employ a variety of strategies when working with AAVE
speakers in order to facilitate academic success.
Furthermore, the authors recommend that college of
education teacher training programs should be sensitive
to: a) students’cultural and linguistic backgrounds; and b)
their own expectations of students’ who speak AAVE.
That is, students’ who speak AAVE should be expected
to achieve equally as their SAE counterparts. When
educators understand that culture provides a context for
the teaching and learning of all students’, they recognize
that differences between home and school cultures can
pose challenges for both educators and students García
SB et al. [27] moreover, students’ success and failure can
be understood as the result of a match (or mismatch)
between the in-school learning environment and
students’ learning needs and characteristics García et al.
86 Online J. Edu. Res.
[28]. The theory of cultural discontinuity suggests that in
the case of children of color, there is a mismatch between
the students’ home culture and the school culture.
Children are socialized into language through the
activities and experiences in their everyday lives with
peers and adults, learning how to think about, talk about,
and use language before entering school Heath SB et al.
[29]. That is, as studies on AAVE [5-11] have shown,
children have developed competency in their native
linguistic system before school matriculation. However,
this use of language may conflict with the language used
in either or both the home and school setting. [30]
Therefore, it is important for teachers to be aware of the
characteristics of the language(s) brought by their
students to the classroom to teach bilingual or bidialectal
students effectively.
Furthermore, teachers should be familiar with current
linguistic research and theory related specifically to
language diversity and language deficits, including
studies that have demonstrated both the legitimacy of
AAVE as a dialect and the cognitive and linguistic
competence of children who speak AAVE. Although
speakers of AAVE are frequently attributed with a
linguistic pathology [12], American Speech, Language
and Hearing Association makes clear that, “no dialectal
variety of English is a disorder or a pathological form of
speech or language.” [31] Prior to the publication of the
norm-referenced DELV-NR in July 2005 [32], there was
no standardized assessment tool to help teachers or
clinicians determine language pathology in dialectal
speakers (e.g., African American English, regional
dialects such as Appalachian English Cajun, Haitian
Creole, etc.). However, since its publication, teachers,
and school-clinicians now have access to an assessment
tool which can be used to effectively determine whether a
client’s speech can be attributed to language variations
that reflect dialectal differences from SAE or deficits in
language acquisition.
Yet even with such instruments, the discernment of
dialect features from impaired linguistic development is a
delicate task, and many speech language clinicians
experience difficulty in adequately determining dialect
features, whether present in isolation or in conjunction
with signs of delayed or disordered cognitive and
language development. Because of the potentially grave
consequences of rushed judgment and designation to
special education, teachers are advised to consider best
practices, such as appropriate evaluation of dialectal
speakers. In order to determine if a child indeed has a
developmental impairment, a number of clinical tasks
should occur. These include: (1) gathering a
comprehensive case history of the child; (2) determining
the child’s cognitive and auditory abilities; and (3)
assessing the child’s comprehension and production of
language via observation, language sampling, probing
and administering standardized test(s) as outlined by a
linguist and skilled language pathologist [33-35].
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[4] Florida Department of Education. Comprehensive System of
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[8] Dillard J. Black English. New York: Random House; 1972.
[9] Fasold RW, Wolfram W. Some linguistic features of Negro dialect.
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[10] Ramer A, Rees N. Selected aspects of the development of English
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Appendix A
ID#:_________________ Gender: ___Male ___Female
Year in School:__________________ Major:_____________________
Teaching experience: ____years
How much of your teacher training has taken place at the University of South Florida?
Very Little ____ Some ____ Most ____ All ____ None ____
*Note: African American Vernacular English is abbreviated AAVE. Mainstream American English (the language of
instruction) is abbreviated MAE.
As an educator, or future educator, please circle your response in terms of your level of
agreement with each statement using a scale of 1 to 4 (1 being strongly disagree and 4
being strongly agree).
Agreement Table
Champion et al. 89
Agreement Table Cont.
To what extent has the subject been presented to you in your teacher training?
Not at all _____
Very little _____
Often _____
Extensively _____
If AAVE has been a topic of class discussion, in what course(s) did you encounter it?
_________________ __________________
_________________ __________________
What is your overall opinion of the use of AAVE in the school setting?
... As such, numerous studies have been conducted on the language ideologies of educators and their attitudes toward the use of "undervalued" English dialects (Blake & Cutler, 2003;Bowie & Bond, 1994;Champion et al., 2012;Davila, 2016;Fitzsimmons-Doolan, 2014;Ford, 1978;Lawton & de Kleine, 2020;Metz, 2019;Taylor, 1973;Weaver, 2019). These studies have typically focused on English instructors at all levels, including pre-service instructors and undergraduate, pre-service education majors (Bowie & Bond, 1994;Champion et al., 2012;Ford, 1978), though a few have also broadened their focus to instructors in other disciplines (Ford, 1978). ...
... As such, numerous studies have been conducted on the language ideologies of educators and their attitudes toward the use of "undervalued" English dialects (Blake & Cutler, 2003;Bowie & Bond, 1994;Champion et al., 2012;Davila, 2016;Fitzsimmons-Doolan, 2014;Ford, 1978;Lawton & de Kleine, 2020;Metz, 2019;Taylor, 1973;Weaver, 2019). These studies have typically focused on English instructors at all levels, including pre-service instructors and undergraduate, pre-service education majors (Bowie & Bond, 1994;Champion et al., 2012;Ford, 1978), though a few have also broadened their focus to instructors in other disciplines (Ford, 1978). Additionally, because we were specifically interested in gauging instructor responses to authentic codemeshed academic texts, rather than solely focusing on their self-professed language ideologies, we were guided by previous research that also shared this aim (Davila, 2016). ...
... Nearly all of the aforementioned studies assessed teacher attitudes using adapted versions of the sociolinguistic Language Attitude Scale, which asks educators to respond not only to statements about embracing or rejecting linguistic diversity in education but also to those about incorporating linguistic diversity in society as a whole (Taylor, 1973). However, as noted by Champion et al. (2012), an educator's race was an important factor, with Black educators responding more positively to BE than their non-Black peers. Further, McWhorter (2017, p. 21) outlined four barriers to the acceptance of BE, which included the framing of BE as a "distorted dialect [of] minstrel-show performers" and the belief that standard and undervalued dialects cannot coexist in a "complementary relationship." ...
This study investigates the attitudes of educators of different race, class, linguistic, political, and disciplinary backgrounds at a large, urban, public university to code-meshed Black English in academic texts. This research draws on surveys as well as interviews gauging how educators responded to the idea of code-meshing not only in principle but also in practice, by analyzing their response to authentic intentionally code-meshed texts by unnamed Black English users. By noting patterned responses that emerged among subsets, we were able to notice how the seemingly “objective” act of imagining the authors and audiences for these code-meshed texts was in fact deeply personal, informed by respondents’ intersectional identities, language ideologies, and lived experiences, informing in turn how they would advise student writers who choose to code-mesh in their academic writing.
... Studies that have sought to gauge educators' attitudes towards AAL in speech and writing (Szpara and Wylie 2008) show that teachers view AAL use as inadequate, problematic, damaging to students, or a sign of lower intelligence. These attitudes are persistent for instructors at various levels of education, from pre-service training institutions (Champion et al. 2012) to elementary schools (Salih 2019) to higher education (Ervin 2005). 3 Because teacher expectation has a measurable effect on student performance (Rist 1970), these attitudes have contributed to the underachievement of African American students (Champion et al. 2012), as well as their overrepresentation in special needs programming (Strickland 2014). ...
... These attitudes are persistent for instructors at various levels of education, from pre-service training institutions (Champion et al. 2012) to elementary schools (Salih 2019) to higher education (Ervin 2005). 3 Because teacher expectation has a measurable effect on student performance (Rist 1970), these attitudes have contributed to the underachievement of African American students (Champion et al. 2012), as well as their overrepresentation in special needs programming (Strickland 2014). Thus, AAL is denigrated in formative arenas that have serious repercussions for the lives of Black people whose language use contains these morphosyntactic structures. ...
Research on bias in artificial intelligence has grown exponentially in recent years, especially around racial bias. Many modern technologies which impact people’s lives have been shown to have significant racial biases, including automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems. Emerging studies have found that widely-used ASR systems function much more poorly on the speech of Black people. Yet, this work is limited because it lacks a deeper consideration of the sociolinguistic literature on African American Language (AAL). In this paper, then, we seek to integrate AAL research into these endeavors to analyze ways in which ASRs might be biased against the linguistic features of AAL and how the use of biased ASRs could prove harmful to speakers of AAL. Specifically, we (1) provide an overview of the ways in which AAL has been discriminated against in the workforce and healthcare in the past, and (2) explore how introducing biased ASRs in these areas could perpetuate or even deepen linguistic discrimination. We conclude with a number of questions for reflection and future work, offering this document as a resource for cross-disciplinary collaboration.
... Further, the language that BE speakers use in the classroom is depreciated because of its lack of orthodoxy and misalignment with the teachers' language (Champion et al., 2012). Linguists and language scholars maintain that, collectively, educators must undergo a conceptual shift in order to employ practices that value the skillsets multilingual speakers bring. ...
Full-text available
While some lament and disparage the use of Black English (BE), particularly in educational spaces, the purpose, power, and pragmatism of BE are elucidated in this manuscript in an effort to bring all educators into the knowledge of its potency and richness. Using Gee’s work on primary and secondary discourse as a foundation, this manuscript offers a chronology of BE, discusses its impact and usage as a mother tongue, and describes its importance in contemporary education, leveraging hip hop, rap music, in particular, as an instructional tool to substantiate the legitimacy of the BE as an already legitimate, viable dialect natively spoken by generations of Black people. This manuscript also invites readers to consider the value of BE in developing strong twenty-one-century learners by establishing multiliterate students who are conversant in an array of spoken languages/dialects and cultural nuances.
... As such, reflecting on Paris's (2012) question, "What is the purpose of schooling in a pluralistic society?" (p. 95), how do we understand that in a pluralistic society, research shows that preschool teachers have a negative view of AAVE and the students who speak it (Champion et al., 2012)? Similarly, at the high school level, research shows that while teachers are supportive of AAVE (R. Blake & Cutler, 2003), they do not find it appropriate in the classroom as a pedagogical tool. ...
Full-text available
Background/Context The popularity surrounding culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) is notable primarily within language and literacy content areas but is also making its rounds in other disciplines. Because of its assumed objectivity and status, the mathematics discipline has long been a site of disrupting or perpetuating inequity and thus warrants our focus in thinking about how any pedagogical framework influences the success of Black students. We question whether the ideology undergirding CSP is beneficial to the ways in which we seek to educate Black mathematics learners through a philosophy of mathematics education that prioritizes language, and Black English more specifically. Purpose/Objective The objective of this theoretical paper is to take a closer look at the shift in education research that has drawn attention away from asset-based frameworks, like culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) or culturally responsive teaching, to focus on CSP. We seek to address how Black children may be positioned by the ideologies proposed in CSP, particularly in the way that culture, and Blackness in itself, is performed. Our goal is to highlight potential oversights in this framework and to discuss whether CSP represents a viable solution for Black students, particularly in regard to their mathematics education. Research Design We elucidate the genesis of CSP and establish its roots as in tension with a Black ontology by tracing the theoretical origins of two scholars known best for its conceptualization. Findings/Results Conceptualizers of CSP build on Ben Rampton’s work using the concept of “language crossing” and “styling the other,” to level critiques at CSP based on their studies of ritual insults in battle rap and use of African American Language in schools with multiethnic youth. Although it is true that people engage in language-crossing processes quite often, we question whether these actions of language crossing support claims about the eradication of cultural ownership, and at what cost Black people lose these aspects of culture. Conclusions/Recommendations There are valuable lessons learned from Paris’s undertaking, but what Ladson-Billings provided in her theory of CRP was a more powerful conceptualization of improving education for Black students across multiple content areas because of the ways in which it forgoes the often conservative stance on language proffered in the theoretical ideologies of CSP. Discourse and language are inherently significant aspects of mathematics teaching and learning, and Black English is one possible entry into culturally relevant mathematics.
... Significant research in education demonstrates that teachers' expectations are related to student outcomes (Charity Hudley & Mallinson, 2011;Reaser et al., 2017) and non-Black teachers have lower expectations for Black students than Black teachers have for Black students (Gershenson et al., 2016;McKown & Weinstein, 2002). Similarly, students preparing to become teachers also demonstrate negative opinions about the use of AAE (Champion et al., 2012;Newkirk-Turner et al., 2013;Godley & Reaser, 2018). These different expectations negatively impact the scholastic experience for Black students, ethnically diverse students, and European American students who speak nonmainstream varieties (e.g., Southern United States and Appalachian students). ...
Purpose Despite the increased awareness that all dialects are valid linguistic forms, perceptions of African American English (AAE) use are often negative in the general population. Students training for careers as speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are required to have coursework relating to cultural and linguistic diversity. However, little is known about the perceptions of AAE among students in SLP programs. Method Seventy-three students from 46 randomly selected university programs in the United States completed an online survey including explicit statements regarding the validity of AAE and a matched-guide task assessing participants' implicit perceptions of AAE. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four audio pairings that differed in terms of the dialect spoken and the formality of the conversational context. Participants rated the speaker on 11 attributes (e.g., literate/illiterate, rich/poor) using the Revised Speech Dialect Attitudinal Scale. Results Participants indicated positive opinions of statements on the validity of AAE. However, across three categories of personal attributes—sociointellectual, aesthetic, and dynamism—participants who heard the Mainstream American English recordings rated the speaker differently than recordings including AAE. Conclusions Students in SLP programs express positive opinions regarding AAE, and yet, they rate speakers who speak AAE lower in personal attributes. The results highlight the importance of expanding training for future SLPs to include not only explicit statements about the value of AAE but also activities addressing implicit perceptions of dialect use. We provide a brief discussion of how the current data can be implemented for such an activity. Lesson plans and materials are provided as supplemental materials. Supplemental Material
... Many educators have been trained on Cultural Sensitivity, Multicultural Education and diversity in the classroom; however, there is a lack of training in the area of language diversity. With the exception of students who are learning English as a second language, all students come to school with language patterns that may not be considered standard, especially African American students (Champion, Cobb-Roberts, & Bland-Stewart, 2012). Champion, Cobb-Roberts, and Bland-Steward (2012) conducted a study on teachers' perception of AAVE. ...
Full-text available
This study looked at Dialogue Journal Writing (DJW) as a method to improve African American students' understanding of the formal English needed to be successful in school and in the business world. Forty-six 4th-grade students in a rural school participated in this study. Students were required to write two journal entries per week over a twelve-week period. The data included students' journal entries, open-ended questions, interviews, and the results of the pre-and post-study questionnaires and the pre-and posttests on writing performance. The findings showed that the DJW project improved the students' writing fluency and reduced the number of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) grammatical features on the post-writing project. The teachers and students exhibited positive attitudes towards the project and confirmed that DJW was an effective tool for self-understanding and development of student's writing skills. Students indicated that DJW allowed them to see deviations in their own writing and reflect on revisions consistent with Standard American English, which strengthened their confidence in writing. Further, students explained that it enhanced their self-confidence in understanding their own language features in a nonthreatening environment. Research on the instructional practices for improving the writing and speaking skills of African American students who speak AAVE is needed to further deepen our understanding of it and its influence on student achievement. This paper reports the results of a study examining the effects of dialogue journal writing (DJW) on students in terms of the quality of their words written. However, we were trying to determine their level of usage on specific AAVE features in their writing.
... The reason why it is important to consider creoles and dialects as part of the multilingual issues is because children who speak these may often have similar communication difficulties as other multilinguals, such as more frequent diagnosis of language impairment resulting in more referrals for special education (Ford, 2012;Artiles, Harry, Reschly, & Chinn, 2002). In addition, because creoles and dialects are often stigmatized as substandard forms of language, children and families may experience linguistic chauvinism, as evidenced by teachers viewing dialect speakers as less intelligent (Champion, Cobb-Roberts, & Bland-Stewart, 2012 In terms of best practices for educators, teachers must be provided with professional development opportunities that educate them about the language diversity found among Black children. Like other multilingual children, Black children can benefit from modified language and literacy instruction to accommodate their communication differences (Boutte & Johnson, 2013). ...
This study investigates the role of African American Language (AAL) and *Standardized American English (*SAE) in Black/African American same-race teacher-student relationships. The teachers in this study (1) used AAL as a valuable tool for building rapport and trust with their students; (2) were aware of their positions as linguistic role models; and (3) encouraged AAL-speaking students to use *SAE due to concerns about racial and linguistic profiling. Results suggest that because AAL-speaking African American teachers understand the United States to be a racially stratified society, they encourage their students to use *SAE with intentions of helping students advance socially and economically. This study illuminates why African American teachers use their shared language proficiency with their same-race students.
Urban schools are becoming increasingly linguistically diverse. However, principals are not adequately prepared to address linguistic variation, and in particular, issues related to African American Language (AAL). This study explores the language ideological voices of urban school administrators. Focus group sessions were conducted with 15 administrators of predominantly African American schools about the function of AAL in their students’ lives. Participants demonstrated variation in views toward AAL and struggled to name the language. These discussions were mediated by multiple, even competing, language ideologies, as they attempted to converse about the use of AAL in schools.
This authoritative introduction to African American English (AAE) is the first textbook to look at the grammar as a whole. Clearly organised, it describes patterns in the sentence structure, sound system, word formation and word use in AAE. The book uses linguistic description and data from conversation to explain that AAE is not a compilation of random deviations from mainstream English but that it is a rule-governed system. The textbook examines topics such as education, speech events in the secular and religious world, and the use of language in literature and the media to create black images. This much-needed book includes exercises to accompany each chapter and will be essential reading for students in linguistics, education, anthropology, African American studies and literature.
Phonological and grammatical performance of 60 black preschoolers of lower and middle social status was assessed with spontaneous, paragraph completion, and sentence repetition procedures. Developmental information regarding younger ( Mdn age = 4 yr. 5 mo.) and older ( Mdn age = 5 yr. 5 mo.) black preschoolers' phonological and grammatical performance is provided. Data from comparable white preschoolers set the study within the context of traditional studies of speech sound and grammatical development.
Within a theoretical context of speech accomodation theory, this study follows Lambert et al.'s (1960) "matched-guise" technique. Seventy-two African-American students at a mid-south university listened to and evaluated a tape-recorded excerpt of a speech given by Jesse Jackson at the 1996 Democratic National Convention. The first version of the speech was translated into Ebonics. After students listened to the first four-minute speech in Ebonics, students then proceeded to answer a questionnaire concerning the ethos/source credibility and perceived sociability of the speaker. Next, students listened to the same audiotaped speech (given by the same speaker), except the text of the speech was translated (and subsequently delivered) in Standard English. The students then rated this second speaker on those same ethos/source credibility and sociability scales. The speaker who used Standard English was viewed as more credible (i.e., more competent and having a strong character) and sociable than the Ebonics speaker. Both of these scores were significant at the p≤.05 level. Future research replicating these results is urged across other African-American samples.
Data from rural Southern white speech are compared with Vernacular Black English (VBE) in order to determine the relationship of these varieties. Copula absence and invariant be, the two features most often cited in arguments about black-white speech relations, are described from a viewpoint which admits structured variability as part of linguistic competence. Some lects of Southern white speech and VBE may use zero copula quite similarly, but there is considerable difference in the uses of invariant be; the 'distributive' function of be appears to be unique to VBE in this setting. There is evidence that certain aspects of copula absence in white Southern speech may have been taken from a decreolizing form of Black English.
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
In this wonderful new volume, Geneva Gay makes a convincing case for using culturally responsive teaching to improve the school performance of underachieving students of color. Key components of culturally responsive teaching discussed include teacher caring, teacher attitudes and expectations, formal and informal multicultural curriculum, culturally informed classroom discourse, and cultural congruity in teaching and learning strategies. This is an excellent resource for anyone who cares about improving and recognizing the factors that shape culturally responsive teaching and learning.