new middle school class???

Roger Shuy rshuy at MONTANA.COM
Thu Apr 7 01:30:13 UTC 2005

on 4/6/05 7:08 PM, Jan Kammert at write at SCN.ORG wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jan Kammert <write at SCN.ORG>
> Subject:      new middle school class???
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> Those of you on this list have always been fantastic about answering my
> questions.  I hope you can help me out again.
> I teach 8th grade, and my principal has invited teachers to come up with
> new elective classes for grades 6 through 8.  I'm thinking about a course
> on language.  I'm thinking of having a bit of vocabulary, grammar, and the
> history of English.  The course would be one semester (18 weeks).
> I have to write a course description by noon on Friday.  Teachers only got
> this request yesterday.  I don't know how anyone can write anything very
> thoughtful in that amount of time, but I'm going to give it my best try!
> Do any of you have thoughts about what topics could be covered in this
> course?  Thoughts about printed resources?  Thank you in advance for any
> ideas you have.
> Jan
Back in the old days, when linguistics seemed to be important to the
schools, the NCTE asked me to write a little booklet for high school
teachers and students--about dialects. I did (in 1967) and it was published
by NCTE and became a best seller for a number of years. It even included a
checklist of dialect features that young people could gather from their
families and friends. Discvering American Dialects is out of print now (just
as linguistics seems to have gone out of style in the secondary curriculum)
but your question prompted me to think of it again. There is so much about
language that can be made exciting to young students. I had taught 7th
graders in my early teaching and I had them find out whether the wh in
"which" was used by their school principal, their teachers and their family.
As it turned out, in this Midland dialect community where I taught,  nobody,
I mean nobody, used the wh in those words. Purists claimed that they
couldn't tell the difference between a female who rode a broom from a
relative pronoun. Bosh. They knew full well whitch was which. Kids are often
a lot smarter than we are.

Roger Shuy

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