Multicultural Issues in Human Communication - Essay Example

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In December 1996, the Oakland School Board decided that it was going to recognize Ebonics, or African American Vernacular English (AAVE), as a valid dialect and would use it in teaching African American children (LSA Resolution, 1997). Opponents, defining AAVE as "slang," "mutant," lazy," "defective," and "ungrammatical" "broken English," argued that the decision was educationally detrimental (LSA Resolution, 1997)…
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Multicultural Issues in Human Communication
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Download file to see previous pages The fact is that many African American students are facing academic problems due to their inability to speak and fully comprehend standard English and, therefore, the use of AAVE as a language of instruction during the transitional stage towards learning standard English, will improve the academic performance of these students and teach them standard English fluency.
There are several dialect within American English. As Pei (1958) explains, the coexistance of two or more languages, each fulfilling different purposes, or the same one, is as old as language itself. According to Pei (1958), AAVE is the most widely spoken of these dialects in the United States and its use, as a tool in language instruction, will not threaten Standard English. Indeed, the use of Ebonics as a language of instruction in the transitional stage towards teaching African American students fluency in Standard English, will strengthen, and not threaten, the linguistic unity in the United States. ...
The implication here is that the adoption of AAVE will not threaten standard English but can positively contribute to the acquisition of fluency in it.
The academic performance of African American students illustrates that there is linguistic disunity in the United States. This can be solved through the use of AAVE as a tool for eliminating the language barriers that exist between blacks and whites. AAVE will not only improve the Standard English linguistic skills of African American students, leading to better academic performance but, will give white teachers the ability to understand their black students as students and not as black students, distinguished from the whites by more than colour. The social psychologists, Williams and Whitehead (1973) have observed that African American children are stereotyped according to whether they speak AAVE or Standard English, creating a communication problem between the student and the teacher. The teacher is unable to objectively evaluate the child and the child becomes nonresponsive to the teacher. As Williams and Whitehead (1973) report subjects listened to dialogues spoken in different dialects and described the personality of the speaker accordingly. Non-English, or non-standard English speakers were given negative personality characteristics. The authors argue that it is, therefore, important to teach teachers what AAVE is and to help them understand it as a valid dialect and not jump to the conclusion that those who speak it are of poor intelligence, come from poor backgrounds, live in violent neighborhoods and are not very interested in school. Williams and Whitehead (1973) also point out that this attitude is clearly communicated to the African American students and becomes an obstacle to academic ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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