Attitudes Towards African American Vernacular English In African American Preschool Teachers

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Attitudes towards African American Vernacular English in African American preschool teachers





Theoretical Framework3

Social Judgment Theory3

Language Development and Educational Outcomes6

Understanding African American Vernacular English (AAVE)20

Society's Attitudes Towards AAVE23

Attitudes Towards AAVE26

Factors that influence Teacher's Attitudes Regarding AAVE34

Cultural Mistrust35



Education Level and Training38

Implications for Human Service Providers39





Teachers are a vital part of the educational process and, as such, they can have a great impact on their students. What teachers teach is important, but how they teach can mean the difference between a successful and confident student and a below average achiever with low self-esteem. How they teach can be influenced by the attitudes they hold. Those attitudes, positive or negative, may have an effect on the way those children are treated, assessed, and subsequently, how they achieve (McLaughlin & Agnew, 2009). Specifically, African American Vernacular English (AAVE) speakers can either excel or fail based on teachers attitudes toward them in the classroom.

Unfortunately, teachers often believe that students who speak African American Vernacular English (AAVE) are deficient in oral languages, and the biases teachers have toward AAVE speaking students may result from a lack of knowledge of diverse dialects in speakers' language, particularly AAVE speaking students. Irvine (2009) reports that although teachers possess very little knowledge about AAVE, they hold negative views toward its use. Several studies reveal that teachers many times fail to understand various dialects and allow dialectical differences to interfere with their assessment of their students' abilities. Language is very closely tied to self-concept, and it is quite possible that if teachers, through a lack of knowledge, view the language of African American children as inferior, this could affect the teaching and learning that should take place.

AAVE speakers are at risk when their teachers do not have knowledge about the linguistic differences of their language. When teachers are not aware of the linguistic differences of AAVE, many tend to interrupt the student's oral reading, call on them less frequently and allow them less response time to answer comprehension questions, which not only interrupts the flow of reading, but also may cause the student to become self-conscious and quiet during reading (Kohler, 2007; Martines, 2005).

Since research indicates that African American students are not linguistically deficient, other factors such as teacher attitudes should be examined to explain the failure of these students learning to read (Weaver, 2006; Van Hook, 2006). In a number of studies concerning AAVE, teacher attitudes toward AAVE and AAVE speakers were found to be negative. In the case of the AAVE speaking student, negative attitudes toward AAVE may, at times, negatively affect teachers' oral reading assessments of that student. Some educators consider AAVE inadequate and inferior to Standard American English (LeMoine, 2007). Standard English (SE) s the language used by mainstream America, and the dialect used in school, media, and formal settings.

Irvine (2009) found that students' dialects have a negative impact on the expectations their teachers hold for their intelligence, ability in reading and overall academic success, if their dialect differs from ...
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