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Subject:

Re: assessment help

From:

Nic Voge <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 13 Feb 2007 09:42:17 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (230 lines)

Rae,
Thanks for picking this thread back up.
When thinking of language variety or dialect (not "accent"), I think 
it is important to make a distinction between the rule-governed 
nature  of a variety of language and its social, political and 
economic status. This distinction is suggested by the quote from 
McClendon below. He points out that "Black English" (note that not 
all Black people speak this variety, and persons who would not be 
considered black do, in fact, speak this variety) has features he 
likes, but that speaking it can lead to being discriminated against. 
That is, because the language is low status, those who speak it may 
be treated as low status, denied access to full participation in our 
society, and judged inferior in some way. So, while so-called Black 
English is as legitimate a variety of  language as any other in terms 
syntax, phonology, morphology, etc. it is not considered legitimate 
by most in dominate positions in our society. This is a social 
judgement, not a linguistic one. Few, if any, linguists would say 
that Standard American English is "better" linguistically than Black 
English. Why, indeed, should we even use dualisms of "better and 
worse", "correct and incorrect" when thinking about language? Is 
green "better" than orange? Is a chicken an incorrect variety of bird 
because it does not fly?

So, I would ask Mr McClendon, "better" for what? Better 
grammatically? Linguistic evidence doesn't support that claim. Better 
in terms of having access to power? I would agree. But at what price 
to these speakers do we seek to change their ways of speaking to be 
like the standard?

So, when we as educators attempt to  "improve" our students' 
dialects, we need to be aware that we are not teaching "correct" 
English, but rather, "conventional" and "codified" English that 
reflects the ways of speaking of those who do the codifying.
Nic


>Our College recently invited writer, diversity trainer and talk show
>host Garrard McClendon to speak on his new book "Ax or Ask? The African
>American Guide to Better English."  Our student newspaper ran an article
>on McClendon.  He is quoted as saying, "I love Black English, it's
>comfortable, rhythmic, but use it all the time and you can be
>discriminated against. Sometimes we blame things on color, when it could
>be dialect."  He reminded the audience that there is no such word as
>"squoze" or "irregardless."  In addition to his book, McClendon has
>created a website
>blackenglish.com to further educate African Americans.
>
>I, myself, have not reviewed his book; and I have briefly visited his
>website.  You may find one or both helpful.   
>
>
>
>Rae M. Maslana, M.Ed., NCC, LPC
>Certified Learning Center Leadership Professional - Level 4
>College of DuPage
>Coordinator, Tutoring Services
>Academic Support Center, IC 3040
>(630) 942-3681
>and
>C.O.D. Counselor
>(630) 942-4804 - Westmont Center
>(630)942-4603 - Addison Center
>
>Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
>matter.
>-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
>[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Susan Jones
>Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 1:38 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: assessment help
>
>Thanks for this idea - it's going into my
>email-folder-for-stuff-I'll-be-looking-for-later :)
>
>Susan Jones
>Academic Development Specialist
>Academic Development Center
>Parkland College
>Champaign, IL  61821
>[log in to unmask]
>Webmastress,
>http://www.resourceroom.net
>http://bicyclecu.blogspot.com
>
>
>>>>  "Mayfield, Linda" <[log in to unmask]> 1/25/2007 5:53 PM >>>
>Vicki,
>	The majority of our students come from small, rural communities
>within 100 miles of our college, and we often face this problem, too.
>There are a few specific errors that are so common in that immediate
>geographic area that students do not even hear them as being wrong, even
>when reminded, because nearly everyone with whom they have conversed all
>their lives has said the same thing.  One is the conjugation of "see,"
>as in "I seen," and the other is the conjugation of "come," as in "I
>have came."  I could hardly believe it when I moved here and started
>hearing college professors with master's and doctorates in their fields
>using those constructions, even in formal settings, but some do.
>	One senior faculty sent a student to me, saying the young woman
>was an excellent clinician, but her spoken grammar was so poor, she
>wasn't sure she would be able to get a job. That motivated that student
>to come.  (This was before the nursing shortage became so severe.)
>Usually, however, if a student comes to me for academic enhancement for
>any reason long enough to develop a rapport, I point out that in spite
>of what an excellent student/nurse they will become, there is one thing
>that might hold them back--and I tell them.  I can't recall a single
>student that did not respond positively.
>  	I don't use a formal assessment, but have found this strategy to
>be extremely effective:  I draw a small grid and write the grammar
>persons across the top-- I, you, he/she/it, and write the verbs "see"
>and "come" down the side.  I fill in the grid with correct conjugations,
>demonstrating visually that "seen" ALWAYS takes a helping verb, and
>"came" NEVER takes a helping verb.  Visual learners get it immediately,
>and usually say no one ever told them that before. (I'm sure they just
>weren't told in a way that made sense to a visual learner.) Then we
>choose one of the troublesome verbs and have a dialogue about a certain
>topic--anything from baking a cake to going to Disneyland.  It's almost
>like the campfire storytelling game in which one person tells part of
>the story and passes it on to the next to continue. Each of us must use
>the verb in one of its forms in every sentence. It's goofy enough to be
>fun, which removes the embarrassment for the student, and we do it for
>several weeks, until the student's "ear" becomes attuned to the correct
>usages. I know we have crossed an important line when they make their
>first self-correction, and another when they come in and announce they
>had noticed an incorrect usage in someone else's speech.
>	That first young woman not only got her first job at the
>location she preferred, but started in management. She was effusive in
>how glad she was that her conversational speech had become
>management-level in time!
>Linda Riggs Mayfield
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
>[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Vicki Dieffenderfer
>Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 3:13 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: assessment help
>
>We have several students that can write okay but need help with their
>spoken language usage (uses "country" vocabulary).  Does anyone know of
>any assessments that we can use or anything else that we can use to help
>these students?
>Thanks in advance!
>Vicki Dieffenderfer
>Director
>Adult Learning Development Center
>Tusculum College
>Graduate and Professional Studies
>1305 Centerpoint Blvd.
>Knoxville, TN 37932
>865-693-1177
>
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-- 

Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention,  through 
the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry men pursue in 
the world, with the world, and with each other. --Paolo Freire

Dominic (Nic) J. Voge
Study Strategies Program Coordinator
University of California, Berkeley
Student Learning Center
136 Cesar Chavez Student Center  #4260
Berkeley, CA 94720-4260

(510) 643-9278
[log in to unmask]
http://slc.berkeley.edu

Spring 2007 Office Hours
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