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HESP Seminar Series: Jan Edwards (HESP)

Time: 
Wednesday, December 07, 2016 - 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Location: 
2208 LeFrak

Dialect mismatch and its implications for academic achievement

Abstract: The single most important problem in public education in the United States today is the “achievement gap”: the well-documented observation that children from low-socioeconomic status (SES) families perform less well academically than children from middle- SES families. Many children from low-SES families speak a non-mainstream dialect of English, while the language of instruction is Mainstream American English.  Dialect mismatch is an often-ignored factor that may contribute to the achievement gap, although recent research suggests that it may play a role (e.g., Patton Terry & Connor, 2012, Patton Terry et al., 2012).  For example, African American children from low-SES families generally speak African American English (AAE). The substantial phonological, morphosyntactic, and pragmatic differences between SAE and AAE may hinder academic progress, interfering with young AAE speakers’ ability to benefit from school experiences. This talk will discuss two studies related to dialect mismatch. Study 1 examines the impact of dialect mismatch on the awareness and comprehension of MAE by AAE-speaking children from low-SES families.  Study 2 describes a pilot intervention program to ameliorate the effects of dialect mismatch. Children from two pre-kindergarten classrooms participated in this program: one classroom received a focused curriculum that highlighted differences between “home” and “school” talk, while the other classroom received a control intervention that focused on mindfulness.