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Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools (Multicultural Education Series) [Paperback]

by Anne H. Charity Hudley, Christine Mallinson, James A. Banks, Walt Wolfram, William Labov
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 5, 2010 0807751480 978-0807751480
In today's culturally diverse classrooms, students possess and use many culturally, ethnically, and regionally diverse English language varieties that may differ from standardized English. This book helps classroom teachers become attuned to these differences and offers practical strategies to support student achievement while fostering positive language attitudes in classrooms and beyond. The text contrasts standardized varieties of English with Southern, Appalachian, and African American English varieties, focusing on issues that are of everyday concern to those who are assessing the linguistic competence of students.

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Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools (Multicultural Education Series) + Linguistic Perspectives on Language and Education + Dual Language Development & Disorders: A Handbook on Bilingualism & Second Language Learning, Second Edition (CLI)
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Editorial Reviews


"The result is an academic study relevant to anyone interested in the way children (and adults) process language, as well as to classroom teachers looking for educational strategies to better serve their students. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels." - Choice

"Its message should be a part of teacher education and broader education reform for all of us." - Teachers College Record

"This book's descriptions, explanations, and teaching suggestions are invaluable to teachers." -The Journal of Educational Research

"[T]his book is an impressive illustration of productive synergy between theory and practice.... [It] addresses with clarity those language-based concerns that have often served as barriers to affirming students' self-worth and ability to learn." - Language and Education

From the Back Cover

"In the ongoing debate about language we typically hear arguments about what students say and/or how they say it. Finally, a volume that takes on the 'elephant in the parlor' -- WHO is saying it. By laying bare the complicated issues of race, culture, region, and ethnicity, Charity Hudley and Mallinson provide a scholarly significant and practically relevant text for scholars and practitioners alike." --Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African-American Children
"An invaluable guide for teachers, graduate students, and all lovers of language. The authors provide a comprehensive and fascinating account of Southern and African American English, showing how it differs from standardized English, how these differences affect children in the classroom, and how teachers can use these insights to better serve their students." --Dr. Deborah Tannen, University Professor and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University, author of You Just Don't Understand and Talking from 9 to 5
"Language variation in English is one of the more misunderstood areas in education. The authors do an exceptional job of demystifying the topic by providing useful background material and practical insights. This volume is destined to become a foundational classic for teacher preparation and the ongoing professional development of educators." --Dr. Terrence G. Wiley, President of the Center for Applied Linguistics and Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University, author of Literacy and Language Diversity in the United States

Product Details

  • Series: Multicultural Education (Book 45)
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press (December 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807751480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807751480
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars using book in classroom January 10, 2011
As a teacher, many of Charity Hudley and Mallinson's strategies can be put to use directly with the students. When I edit student papers, I can select one or two issues of language to address at a time (p.30). I will understand a student's comment may not reflect confrontation, but instead, reflect his learned tone of voice (p.99). I must be careful to use assessments that truly measure a student's mastery of material rather than ones that may be evaluating his cultural background (p. 118). By opening teacher's eyes to the frequent misunderstandings in the classroom and the opportunities to include bias-free lessons and assessments, students with various backgrounds will show their true learning and school success. A must read for classroom teachers!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book for educators January 30, 2011
As a sociologist concerned about language and inequality in the classroom, I have been looking for a book with theoretical insight and practical strategies--and this book is it! I teach sociology classes in North Carolina and wanted to know what I could do to help students with African American and Southern English varieties excel in the college classroom. After reading this book I feel prepared to do this! This is a valuable book for educators and others interested in understanding the importance of language in our lives! Thank you Dr. Charity Hudley and Dr. Mallinson for this great resource!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for all teachers February 20, 2011
Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools offers an academically informed (but easily accessible) introduction to linguistic issues that every teacher will encounter in the classroom. The book focuses on two of the most stigmatized varieties of non-standard English, those typical among many Southerners and those typical of many African Americans. The introduction to linguistic terminology is done simply so that real-world applications are scientifically grounded, but easy to understand and implement.

By working closely with teachers in Virginia and Maryland during the planning stages of this book, Anne Charity Hudley and Christine Mallinson were able to tailor it directly to the needs of the classroom. They document the kinds of variation Southerners and African Americans are likely to exhibit. Teachers who read this book will be able to address the reading and writing errors that result from this variation as the systematic patterns that they are.

The methods used in this book have been proven to raise assessment scores, particularly when, as these authors advocate, the teacher treats the students' home language with respect. Even if you teach students from different demographics than those described in this book, the introduction to language variation will make you more aware of the kinds of activities you need to use with your students in order to get them to understand how language really works. Every teacher in this country should have this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, the perfect resource for the school community January 31, 2011
By Laura
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At last we have a book on language variation that speaks to the entire school community including not only educators, but administrators, and counselors as well. Concise, clearly written, and a perfect balance between theory and practice, this book is very readable and does not require a linguistic background in order to understand it. The reader will walk away with a deeper understanding of what English language variation is and how it relates to teaching and academic achievement. The authors advocate that educators build on the language patterns that students bring with them to school, helping all students learn standardized English without diminishing their linguistic and cultural background (9).
Perhaps the most welcomed feature--and where other books of this sort fall short--is the authors' inclusion of sections called, Strategies for Educators which provide plenty of concrete ways to foster language awareness and linguistically informed responses in the classroom. If, as an educator, you have ever reflected upon the connection between your students' home language and school achievement, then grab this book. I wish I would have had Understanding English Language Variation in hand at the beginning of my teaching profession.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simplistic December 14, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The issue of language variation in the schools is more complex than depicted here. The solutions offered are too simplistic. It is a book for the rank beginner only. On the positive side it is written clearly and understandably so it might be a good start on this topic for those who know nothing about the subject.
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