The Art of Teaching Spanish: Second Language Acquisition from Research to Praxis

By Rafael Salaberry; Barbara A. Lafford | Go to book overview

9
Incorporating Linguistic Variation
into the Classroom

Manuel J. Gutierrez    University of Houston

Marta Fairclough    University of Houston

The following example of an online chat appears in an English as a Second Language (ESL) textbook recently published in a Latin American country:1

[sacha] todos los marinos de Chile son pinochetistas y cagones

[eduardo] CUENTAME ESA VERSION QUE NO LA CONOZCO

[GLORIA] LLA ESTANHABLANDO WUEVADAS LOS FOME

[eduardo] TODOS ES MUCHA GENTE

[eduardo] LO DICES POR LO DEL ESMERALDA?

[Marco] p

[MORENAZO] Y QUE ESTA HACIENDO=?

[Shawn] ich will

[Marco] pppp

[sacha] arturo prats era un viejo culiao cochino que ni se afeitava2

(La Tercera online, March 19,2004)

After receiving information about the content of the passage, the government of the country retrieved all 250,000 copies of the book from the schools (they had been delivered to the students free of charge). It was not the language style used by the chat participants but the content of the interaction that accounted for the response. However, the language style is the reason we decided to include this passage at the beginning of our chapter. The linguistic norms evident in this chat are at the nonformal extreme of the style continuum used by adolescents in Chile, yet they found a place in a language textbook. Although textbook authors hardly ever include nonstandard dialects such as the quoted sample, it is refreshing to know that some of them try to present at least a few examples of the variety used every day by the users of the textbook. Would it not be reasonable to offer adolescents a foreign language textbook written in the style they could relate to and likely use, in the same way that business professionals would expect a textbook written in the more formal style of interest to them? While this comparison may be an exaggeration, it seems obvious that the specific needs of students should be taken into account when constructing a language textbook.

-171-

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