Supporting Linguistic Diversity in the Classrooms! ...What's that?

Well, let me tell you about it!

Gather around everyone. We're about to go into history lesson mode.

It all begins with the publication of the Students' Rights to their Own Language Resolution in the College Composition and Communication journal in 1974. The goal of this document was to reaffirm students' rights to use their own language or dialect in the class room.

Below is the resolution:

We affirm the students' right to their own patterns and varieties of language -- the dialects of their nurture or whatever dialects in which they find their own identity and style. Language scholars long ago denied that the myth of a standard American dialect has any validity. The claim that any one dialect is unacceptable amounts to an attempt of one social group to exert its dominance over another. Such a claim leads to false advice for speakers and writers, and immoral advice for humans. A nation proud of its diverse heritage and its cultural and racial variety will preserve its heritage of dialects. We affirm strongly that teachers must have the experiences and training that will enable them to respect diversity and uphold the right of student s to their own language.

This video outlines what cultural diversity is, how to teach it, and why it is important. The SRTOL focuses mostly on linguistic/communication styles, but it a branch of supporting our culturally diverse student population.

School is all about learning, and we have been trying to cater to all of our linguistically diverse students since the racial integration of schools.
So what does the SRTOL Resolution mean for teachers?
Does this look familiar? Research shows that "red-pening" a student's work does little to improve students writing. In fact, dialect students’ writing experience are traumatic because they are made to feel that their language is inadequate for writing.
As a teacher, what do you say to a student that writes this: They message be a form of loud-talking.

Do you correct them? Why? The student here is performing African American English here in conjunction with Standard American English. If you correct them, you are going against the SRTOL Resolution. That student is "code meshing." Here's a video that explains code switching and code meshing is. Vershawn Young also outlines the importance of code meshing in the educational setting. Scholars agree that code meshing is one of the most effective ways of teaching to a lingusitically diverse population, but, as Young notes, we have to first breakdown the stigma against various "nonstandard" dialects.

It is our responsibility, as educators, to validate the experiences of all of our students especially in this ever-growing diverse society. It is up to teachers to set the standard and be more accepting of "nonstandard" dialects in the classroom.


Created with images by cogdogblog - "That is the Question" • geralt - "leave board hand" • stevepb - "books student study" • Barrett.Discovery - "Insect Exhibit in the Barrett Discovery Lab" • ambermb - "school backpack childhood" • Freeimages9 - "chalk color red" • pedrosimoes7 - "Cloud with variable surface (1971) - René Bértholo (1935 - 2005)" • lorenzocafaro - "correcting proof paper"

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