24.28, Diss: Discourse Analysis/ General Ling/ Lang Acq/ Socioling: Hallett: 'African American English in Urban Education...'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-24-28. Mon Jan 07 2013. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 24.28, Diss: Discourse Analysis/ General Ling/ Lang Acq/ Socioling: Hallett: 'African American English in Urban Education...'

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Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2013 18:23:18
From: Jill Hallett [jillh at illinois.edu]
Subject: African American English in Urban Education: A multimethodological approach to understanding classroom discourse strategies

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Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
Program: Department of Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2012 

Author: Jill M. Hallett

Dissertation Title: African American English in Urban Education: A
multimethodological approach to understanding classroom
discourse strategies 

Dissertation URL:  http://www.academia.edu/2332454/AFRICAN_AMERICAN_ENGLISH_IN_URBAN_EDUCATION

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
                     General Linguistics
                     Language Acquisition
                     Sociolinguistics


Dissertation Director(s):
Dennis Baron

Dissertation Abstract:

Discrepancies between “home English” and “school English” for urban students 
have been addressed for decades by a number of scholars in the fields of 
linguistics, education, and sociology (Baratz 1969, Baugh 1995, Charity et al 
2004, Alim 2009, Edwards 2010).  Those students who speak prestige varieties 
of English tend to do better in school settings, in which the teacher’s language is 
that of the mainstream middle class.  

Charity Hudley and Mallinson (2011: 77) note, “[e]ducators and students who 
come from different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds may be unaware of, 
confused by, or ill equipped to understand each other’s linguistic and cultural 
behaviors.”  Some researchers have examined teachers’ contrastive analysis of 
non-prestige varieties of English with that of the prestige variety (Pandey 2000, 
Wheeler and Swords 2006), but rarely has the teachers’ acquisition of non-
prestige forms been examined in any form (a notable exception is Fogel and Ehri 
2006).  Furthermore, no study to date has taken a multimethodological approach 
to understanding both student and teacher discourse strategies in the urban 
classroom.

This study presents the linguistic situation in one Chicago high school.  An 
ethnographic assessment situates language use among students and teachers 
in the classroom.  A written translation task assesses teachers’ knowledge of 
non-prestige dialects (Siegel 1999) at the beginning of the school year, and is 
compared to recorded language use in authentic classroom interaction, including 
student and teacher use of African American English.  Interviews add depth to 
the study by connecting teacher-to-student discourse to rapport-building 
strategies.  Student questionnaires round out the study by providing feedback on 
teachers’ language strategies and their rapport-building effects.

Through this micro- and macro-level methodology, a multifaceted picture of 
teachers’ and students’ language strategies is presented.  The teachers’ ability to 
accommodate to students’ dialects is reflected in the written task, while actual 
accommodation and rapport-building is examined through discourse analysis 
and interviews.  The teacher who accommodates to students’ language has 
potential to defuse the linguistic tension apparent in the mainstream urban 
American classroom, with the further possibility for discussion, demystification, 
and deconstruction of language ideologies and linguistic identities inherent in the 
makeup of urban societies.






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