Unclear on American Campus: What the Foreign Teacher Said

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at leeds.ac.uk
Mon Jun 27 09:48:09 UTC 2005

"Here in Florida, USA (the state that gave the world W the first time),
we sometimes have  African-American kids sent to Special Education
because they speak  some variety of Black English."

Though too much tolerance of the wrong sort can also lead to problems,
as I documented in some work I did in Singapore. Sometimes, a child
whose speech really is disordered can be overlooked because the
professionals think that the features are features of the child's
dialect (or poor skill in a non-native language that is the language of
assessment). There is also a widespread belief that bilingual children
can be expected to be behind monolingual children. 

So some real disorder can be overlooked. The cause is still ignorance,
of course. And the remedy is primarily to teach professionals about
different varieties of English, and to enable assessment in the child's
best language(s).

Linguists shouldn't be complicit in systems of prejudice.


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Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at leeds.ac.uk
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