Teaching English Language Varieties: Promoting Linguistic and Educational Change Through a Critical Multicultural Pedagogical Approach in the “Introduction to Linguistics” Course
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of English
K. Aaron Smith
This dissertation introduces and analyzes a critical multicultural pedagogical approach to the introductory linguistics course focused on the introduction to the main levels of analysis within linguistics (phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) in the context of standardized English; a nonstandardized English language variety, African American English (AAE); and a World English, Indian English (IE). The approach, which is based on the tenets of critical pedagogy and multicultural education, is centered on language variation and intended for K-12 future language arts teachers (and writing instructors at the college level) with the goal to teach them how to develop linguistically informed curriculum at the K-12 level and beyond.The course starts with an introduction to the origins of language, properties of human language, and a subsequent comparison of these properties with animal communication systems. Then, the focus shifts to the main historical periods of the English language and language change throughout these periods, followed by such topics as globalization of English, English language variation in the U.S., and the origin and some distinctive linguistic features of African American English (first brief introduction to the variety). The course further centers on the study of the main branches of linguistic analysis, which allows for a more detailed description of the prominent linguistic and paralinguistic features of AAE (and IE). The course further takes a sociolinguistic approach and explores the issues of language variation, standard language ideology, and language subordination. The last but no less important part of the curriculum is an introduction of the teaching strategies on how to compare and contrast oral and written standardized English with nonstandardized Englishes so that teachers know how to educate K-12 students on the linguistic structure of both varieties, bring awareness about the legitimacy of English language varieties, and guide students on how to communicate effectively with respect to register, context, purpose, and audience. The research findings suggest that my critical multicultural pedagogical approach and course design were instrumental in the development of students’ positive perceptions towards language variation as the result of the scientific study of the linguistic structure of both standardized and nonstandardized Englishes and the examination of linguistic prejudice and injustice in society. In fact, as a result of this examination, the students brought up the question of fair assessment practices in language arts classes, practices that address the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse K-12 students. This inquiry by the students led to additional research on K-12 language arts teachers’ assessment practices, the findings of which I share in chapter 5. Furthermore, the pedagogical approach demonstrates how to engage students in critical inquiry and problem solving through their personal experiences with language via the examination of the sociolinguistic injustices stemming from standard language ideology.
Belomoina, Lyudmila N., "Teaching English Language Varieties: Promoting Linguistic and Educational Change Through a Critical Multicultural Pedagogical Approach in the “Introduction to Linguistics” Course" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 1589.
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