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    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    Should non-standard English be banned in the classroom?

    Hello everyone, I'm new.
    I am from Taiwan, and I am a college student.
    I am taking a linguistics class.
    I will have a debate next Mon; therefore, I would like to collect some of your opinions.

    My topic will be: Should non-standard varieties of English be banned in the "classroom"?
    Examples of non-standard English would be:
    1.Black English (so-called Ebonics)
    2.African-American English
    3.Pidgin(which is spoken in Hawaii)

    The context of the "classroom" could be in preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, college, and so on.

    Although I am on "No" side (which indicates disagree with the question), I welcome all the opinions no matter which side you are. Please let me know what you think to this question, and please tell me why you think non-standard English should be banned or why it should NOT be banned in the "classroom".

    Sample of the reply:
    1.Do you agree? Yes or No
    If you disagree to ban, the reason could be=>Students may lose interests in learning if they are not allowed to use non-standard English in the classsroom.
    If you agree to ban=>Students can understand each others well if a commom language is spoken by everyone in the classroom.

    Thank you very much for taking your time to make responses.

  1. Editor,
    English Teacher
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    Re: Should non-standard English be banned in the classroom?

    No, they shouldn't
    Firstly, the examples given all apply to minorities so the ban would be perceived as racist. Secondly banning someone's mode of expression is akin to saying they aren't good enough. While teaching standard forms may well improve their life and career possibilities, it has to be done within a more understanding and tolerant framework than a ban.

  2. rewboss's Avatar

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    Re: Should non-standard English be banned in the classroom?

    When you say "Pidgin", what you mean is "Hawaiian Pidgin", which is actually not a pidgin but a creole. That's an important distinction: a pidgin is only any good for trade; a creole is a pidgin that has evolved so much it has become useful for everyday life.

    I think you need to clarify the question. What do you mean by "ban in the classroom"? Do you mean banning anything at all that is not standard English from being spoken anywhere in school? Or do you mean formal lessons being conducted only in the standard language?

    If you insist that formal lessons be conducted in non-standard variants of English as well as the standard, there could be problems in such diverse multicultural societies as the USA. If, for example, students have the right to be able to speak to their teachers and receive instruction in all non-standard variants, then you have to find teachers who can understand and speak all those variants.

    And where exactly do you draw the line? Is it reasonable to expect a school in Southampton to train its staff to speak Scots English on the offchance that someone might move down from the Highlands and demand the right to be taught in Scots English? If not, when does it become reasonable? And, also, isn't that racist? But if you're prepared for Scots English, why not Geordie or Scouse? If you include some non-standard variants but not others, aren't you saying that some variants are not as important as others? And isn't that discriminatory as well?

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    Re: Should non-standard English be banned in the classroom?

    Thank you very much for all your comments and opinions.

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    Re: Should non-standard English be banned in the classroom?

    one more comment, may I? thanks.
    I was wondering, why shouldn't we treat them as standards. Because for me they sounds just like different kind of accents. And as far as I can tell those who speak nonsrandard language, are not acting, they've just been themselves, what do you guys think? But when it comes to exams, specially"writing" or any thing involves with spelling, I think that will be the time to banned them.

  4. Ouisch's Avatar
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    Re: Should non-standard English be banned in the classroom?

    Regarding the original post, Black English (Ebonics) and African American English (African American Vernacular English, or AAVE) are basically the same thing. A lot of the differences between AAVE and Standard English have to do with pronunciation ("ax" instead of "ask"), but then again, native speakers of French or Mandarin Chinese have difficulty pronouncing many of the letter combinations in Standard English, and we don't label that a separate language. We try to teach them the correct way to pronounce "the" and "ask."

    At one time, supporters of AAVE had a valid point. Descendants of slaves had been denied access to education in the US for many years, so they passed down the language of their ancestors. However, it's been over 50 years since Brown vs Board of Education, and any school-age descendant of a slave today has had the same educational opportunities as anyone else. Part of the problem (particularly when discussing Ebonics) is that a lot of it is simply slang, which can be found in any language or culture. That doesn't necessarily mean it's Standard English or should be taught as a separate language. For example, my husband grew up in the rural South, and occasionally still uses many of their traditional expressions: "fixing to" instead of "going to" or "preparing to", etc. In the classroom, these expressions were recognized as slang and not lumped together as a distinct, viable separate language (Southern English). Yet, Ebonics supporters believe that slang phrases like "homey" and "bust a cap" should be not only accepted but also taught in the classroom.

    /just my two cents, your mileage may vary

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    Re: Should non-standard English be banned in the classroom?

    In my opinion, they shouldn' be banned at all, though traditional should always be the dominating. A learner must understand that "u" comes from "you", not vice versa, otherwise it will take much more time for him to learn a language. There is always a norm in any language, and the learners (especially beginners) should keep to the neutral language and its rules first. I think, as a part of some methodological technique, the alternative meanings of words, rules etc. may be additionally explained to the learners.

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