Should Students Who Speak AAVE Be Allowed to Speak their Dialect in a Language Arts Classroom, or Should They Speak Standard English?

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I will be a hypocrite if I say that I speak perfect Standard English at all times. I believe that there is a time and a place for speaking Standard English. In addition, I believe that all students should feel comfortable when conversing with their peers in the classroom. Through analyzing these studies, there appears to be one question posed throughout both articles: should students who speak African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) be allowed to speak their dialect in an English Language Arts classroom, or should they strictly speak Standard English.
The findings by Amanda J. Godley, written in 2012, focus on the fact that “learning formal spoken and written Standard English (SE) is essential to academic and professional success in mainstream U.S. society.” The article explains that AAVE is a type of dialect that is a “variety of English spoken in many African-American communities” (Godley 2012). This article notes that these students, and most speakers of AAVE, are low-class Black Americans. As expressed as well, these teachers are preparing the students for college and the professional world, and in the majority of the U.S., Standard English is the language spoken. Majority means most, not the small communities where AAVE may be acceptable and as unfortunate as it is, our country is not run by that type of citizen.
Most of the students observed understand that they should speak proper English when speaking to adults, going to a job interview, and in a professional or formal situation. It is understandable to view the ELA classrooms as “places to practice SE without being judged,” however as Godley also states, “teachers would benefit from developing an understanding of bidialectal students’ perspectives on code-switching a...

... middle of paper ... interesting to see if students who speak other dialects have similar outcomes. The students in the Godley 2012 study are so concerned about their way of speech condemning them to a low-class job; my concern is what are they trying to do to remedy that outcome? We are taught that appearance and impression make a difference in the professional career world, but are these students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds working to push themselves above that gap.

Works Cited

Godley, Amanda J. and Adam Loretto. "Fostering counter-narratives of race, language, and identity in an urban English classroom." Linguistics and Education (2013): 316-327. Print.
Godley, Amanda J. and Allison Escher. "Bidialectal African-American Adolescants' Beliefs About Spoken Language Expectations in English Classrooms." Journal of Adolescant & Adult Literacy (2012): 704-713. Print.

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