Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice

By James D. Williams | Go to book overview
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7
English as a Second Language and Nonstandard English

OVERVIEW

American society has grown increasingly pluralistic since the mid- 1960s as a result of the largest wave of immigration in the nation's history. One significant consequence is that more and more students in public schools do not speak English as their native language. To meet the challenge these students present, bilingual education programs have been established across the United States with federal support. The goal of these programs is to help nonnative speakers master English. Although all bilingual education programs use English and another language, they commonly differ in structure and focus. Some offer instruction in the native language (L1) in content classes until students show sufficient mastery of English. Others offer instruction in L1 for content classes and provide students with an English as a Second Language (ESL) class to help them master English. Still others offer instruction in English (L2) for content area classes and provide a supplemental ESL class. All these approaches can be described as a form of bilingual immersion, although they reflect different goals for bilingual education--either bilingualism or monolingualism. These goals are normally articulated in the specific orientation in a given district or state. Those schools that perceive value in helping students preserve their home language and culture adopt an approach that emphasizes language maintenance, whereas those that perceive value in helping students assimilate into the English-speaking mainstream emphasize language shift.

In addition to nonnative English speakers, today's classrooms have large numbers of nonstandard English speakers. Most of these speakers come from ethnic minorities, particularly black and Hispanic students, but significant numbers are white students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The combination of various language groups in individual

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