The Use of African American English in Primary Schools

Topics: African American Vernacular English, African American, American English Pages: 3 (1146 words) Published: May 7, 2013
The use of African American English in primary schools
It has always been a subject of debate whether children whose native language is African American Vernacular English (AAVE) should use their own language, or Standard American English (SAE) at schools. The stereotypical view of most white Americans is that Black English is something less adequate, less precise, or less grammatical. They usually do not accept either the pronunciation or the syntax of this language. Nevertheless, it is true that black people who refuse to use SAE are in a far worse social situation than the AAVE speaking others. Therefore, education has to take the responsibility to solve this significant problem. Nonetheless, the question is still open. Is it a good way to correct Ebonics, or teachers should accept the use of it in primary classrooms? First of all, we have to take the advantages of using Black English in classrooms into consideration. Children start primary school at a very young age, and at this point, they break out from their family and community, where their own language is being used, in this case, the AAVE. If teachers correct AAVE at school, African-American children will face that their English is not as good as the others’. Children do not understand perfectly this language difference, and they can start looking for the error in themselves. This behavior can lead to serious frustrations and a very low level of studying willingness (Whitney, 2005). Thus, from this aspect, correcting the use of English in a young age can cause more harm than good. Secondly, every language has its own identity and traditions. The USA, the so-called salad bowl, tolerates all language diversities: immigrants came from all over the world, they took their own culture, beliefs, and mothertongue to the new country. However, for the African-American community this was not the case. They were kidnapped and stolen from their home countries. They lost their cultural habits, their customs, their...

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Wurl, M. (2006, April). I wrote it like this ’cause that’s just how he said it: Finding space for African American Vernacular English in a sixth grade classroom (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Hamline University, Saint Paul.
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