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Any Ideas? Seriously… ANY ideas?


I’m a little at a loss, here. 

For those of you who haven’t already figured it out based on previous posts, I teach a population of 100% African American students, 98% of which come from poverty-stricken neighborhoods, and have been underserved their entire lives. 

They all—for the most part—speak in African American Vernacular English (AAVE.) I took enough Linguistics in college to know (and respect) that AAVE is a dialect rich in culture, tradition, and *very real* grammatical rules. 

The struggle is, most people, especially people grading college entrance essays, and interviewing potential students or employees, don’t necessarily know or agree with that. 

The reality is that we live in a White world, governed by White rules. The White way of speaking is almost always seen as the “right" way of speaking. 

Tonight, as I’m slowly making my way through a huge pile of ungraded papers, I read through an exit slip in which a student wrote: 

Even doe…“

(As opposed to “Even though”). 

I know I’m only a year and a quarter in, but I have yet to see this one in writing. And it just has me thinking… 

What can I do to BEST serve these kiddos for the world that is actually out there for them? They often have the right thoughts in their head, they have rich and creative ideas, but they are also facing a language barrier when it comes to expressing those thoughts in an academic way. 

I feel ill equipped to help them. I don’t know where to start. I’m honestly not a grammar freak—despite being an English major, I never have been, (probably due to the fact that I was never taught it in my own years of secondary education.) 

I also want to make sure they know that I respect their language, because I really do. I just don’t want to be failing them in the real world. I took many Linguistics classes in college when I thought I’d be a Speech and Language Pathologist, and it taught me to be pretty aligned with the Descriptive views of language. But I know that there are many out there who are not, including many of my coworkers. 

If you have ever been in my position, (or even if you haven’t,) and you have some ideas for me to try and help these kids “code switch” so to speak, I’m all ears. 

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