The Academic English Mastery Program (AEMP)

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Pedagogical classroom instruction as a means to social change: The Academic English Mastery Program (AEMP)

The Academic English Mastery Program (AEMP) is a groundbreaking approach to ensuring the language and literacy acquisition of speakers of non-standard varieties in parts of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Headed by former speech pathologist Dr. Noma LeMoine, AEMP is a response to an article entitled, “The Children Can No Longer Wait: An Action Plan to End Low Achievement and Establish Educational Excellence,” which outlines the difficulties of nonstandard English speakers and the failure of the school district to successfully address these deficiencies (LeMoine, 1999, p. 4). The program began in 1990 with nineteen elementary schools and was originally called the Language Development Program for African American Students, thus designed for African American Language speakers. It has now changed its name to appropriately describe its expansion to over three hundred elementary and junior high schools and to include other groups of nonstandard English speakers who are identified as Limited Standard English Proficient students (LeMoine, 2002, lecture). These constituents, what Ogbu (1997, pg. 234, 235) call “castelike minorities,” include African-Americans, Mexican Americans, Hawaiian Americans, and Native Americans, whose native language is not Mainstream American English (MAE). Students are classified as Standard English Language Learners; they are often misclassified by the school district as “English Only” speakers because a great portion of their respective home languages “[incorporate] English vocabulary but [embody] phonology, grammar, and sentence structure rules from indigenous languages other than English” (L...

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