Language Variation in the Classroom - A Guide for Teachers


This website is a resource for teachers about language variation. Language naturally varies from place to place and from person to person, but people are often not aware of the patterns that govern this variation.

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Why is this information important for teachers?

Children’s home language is the language that connects them with their family, and the language in which they are fully competent. School English (also referred to as Standard English), however, is the language variety almost always necessary to succeed in the United States, especially in school. Teachers therefore face the burden of balancing of these two realities: both teaching students School English and valuing the language skills that students’ already possess. The best tool for facing this burden is knowledge about language variation.

What does this website offer?

This website offers descriptions of different language varieties, or dialects, on the pages Southern English and African American English. See these pages to learn about and hear dialects that some of your students may speak. Language variation comes into play in undertakings such as teaching children to read and write, and helping them develop these as well as spoken language skills. In fact, language plays a part in every school subject, and so a better grasp on its workings can enhance any curriculum.

This website also reviews resources and lesson plans about language variation for teachers. See the blog section to find what would be most helpful for you. Use the tags at the bottom of each entry to search for blog entries on similar topics.