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  • Standard English Learners Dr. Sylvia G. Rousseau

    April 21, 2014

    Presentation to Committee of the Whole

  • Speech (Language) and Cognitive Development

      Speech or language: Speech is one of the most powerful psychological tools a person possesses, Vygotsky (1979).

      It enables the mind to mediate situations and make

    meaning of life’s experiences

  • Speech (Language) and Cognitive Development

    “People evolve a language in order to describe

    and thus control their circumstances or in order not be submerged by a reality that they

    cannot articulate” (James Baldwin)

  • Speech (Language) and Cognitive Development

     The language developed in the context of home and family and community gives actions meaning, but schooling holds the home language for some children as inadmissible in the classroom.

  • Speech and Cognitive Development

     In the early stages, children use speech to label objects.

     In later stages, speech acquires a synthesizing function, achieving more complex forms of cognitive perception.

  • Speech and Cognitive Development   Experiments have shown that children not only act in

    attempting to achieve goals, but they also speak. The speech arises spontaneously and continues throughout the activity. It increases and is more persistent every time the situation becomes more complicated and the goal more difficulty to attain.

      Speech not only accompanies practical activity, but also plays a specific role in carrying it out. (Example: father fixing bicycle with son.)

  • Speech (Language) and Cognitive Development

      Written language consists of a system of signs that designate the sounds and words of spoken language, which, in turn, are signs for real entities and relations.

      Gradually the intermediate link, spoken language, disappears and written language is converted into a system of signs that directly symbolize the entities and relationships between them.

      Lesson: importance of oral language to develop written language

  • Speech (Language) and the Classroom   Every teacher needs an awareness that the speech

    children bring to the classroom has been the means of giving birth to human forms of practical and abstract intelligence.

      Even before a child masters his own behavior, the child begins to master his surroundings with the help of speech or language.

      In the process, speech produces new relationships with the environment and intellect grows.

  • Speech (Language) and the Classroom   Initially, in the early stages of a child’s development, speech

    follows actions. It is provoked and dominated by an activity.

      In later stages of development, a new relationship between word and action emerges. At this point, speech guides, determines and dominates the course of action.

      Words can shape an activity into a structure.

  • Speech (Language) and the Classroom   The greatest change in children’s capacity to use language as a

    problem-solving tool takes place somewhat later in their development when socialized speech is turned inward.

      Instead of appealing to the adult, children appeal to themselves; language thus takes on an intrapersonal function in addition to its interpersonal use.

  • Speech (Language) and the Classroom   Those students whose first language is Standardized English,

    learned in the daily activity of their home and in their communities, have built their cognitive structures around Standardized English.

      They have immediate and seamless access to the curriculum which is encoded in the language they speak.

      On the other hand, those students whose first language is not Standard English are left to struggle if they do not receive appropriate support.

  • The African American Student and Language   Recent data show African American youth represent 16% of

    the society’s youth, but 45% of juvenile arrests (Wald & Losen, 2003; Tulozzo and Hewitt, 2006).

      Students with special needs are represented in the prison pipeline at four times the rate of other youth. It is unconscionable for us to subject categorically any group of students to such a future. We are better than that as a people than to let this persist.

  • Language and the African American Child   Although, the Linguistic Society of America classifies Ebonics

    as a full language, a child who enters a classroom with that language is a child who is disadvantaged in the context of schooling.

      The cognitive structures expressed in the language of home are no longer acceptable and the support to acquire a Standardized language is absent.

      Instead, the child is assigned to a series of remediation and intervention experiences without regard for the dynamic role of language.

  • Language and the African American Child   The distinction in academic performance between African

    American students, who are categorically classified as English Only without any assessment, and their White counterparts is as wide as that between Spanish speaking English language learners and their White counterparts as well as RFEPs.

      With structured support many English learners become RFEPs and significantly close the gap between themselves and White middle class English Only students.

      Meanwhile African American students do not receive comparable support.

      Some Latino students whose home language is Spanish are classified as English Only and miss the support they need.

  • Language and the African American Child   Phonological differences that cause African American

    students to pronounce English words differently can interfere with students’ reading comprehension, writing, and speaking.

  • Language and the African American Child   They may erroneously be diagnosed as having a speech

    impairment.   The same is true for speakers of other first languages, i.e.,

    Spanish speaking students.

  • Language and the African American Child   Classifying African American children as “English Only”

    ignores major differences in the structure of Ebonics and Standard English.

      It denies them access to structured support.   African American speech is described as having retained the

    canonical form, or shape, of the syllable structure of the Niger-Congo African languages:

  • Language and the African American Child   Smith (1997) makes a direct link between the large numbers

    of African Americans who are underachieving and their limited or non-Standard English facility with language.

      Recognition of the importance of language differences has led Delpit (1997), to conclude that the teacher's job is two-fold.

      It is to ensure students’ access to Standard English and to understand the language the children speak sufficiently to build on it as students learn a second language. She advocates for teachers to draw upon students’ first language to facilitate school learning.

  • 3rd Grade African American and Latino Drop-out   Third grade is a predictor of their futures. By third grade,

    schooling has contributed to their loss of identity as learners, who bring assets to the teaching and learning experience expecting that it will be received favorably by school. Over the first four years of school, however, Blacks lose substantial ground relative to other races: 0.10 standard deviations per school year.

      By the end of third grade, there is a large Black-White test score gap that cannot be explained by observable characteristics (Fryer and Levitt, 2004).

  • Faulty Identification of English Only Students   Without any screening process at all, African American

    students are classified as English Only without acknowledgement or respect for the language differences that can limit their access to learning and the curriculum.

      Instead they receive remediation demonstrating a deficit view about their ability to learn.

  • Shifting Definitions to Be Inclusive   Since the language of classroom discourse and the language of

    content texts is Standardized (Academic) English, students who are not fluent in Standardized English have limited access to the core curriculum and thus limited opportunities to learn and achieve academically.

  • Shifting Definitions   Insertion of the word standardized in existing criteria for

    students’ language classification creates a more accurate and inclusive view of the students who need support in acquiring the academic language of schooling. Note the implications for changing definitions from English to Standardized English.

      a) English only (EO): Students who speak English as a native language and do not speak any other language.

      b) Standardized English only (EO): Students who speak Stan