- Use literature written in the
variety: short stories, poems, dialogue. Some activities
for students: read passages out loud compare ways people
talk with ways it's written, suggest ways of making the
writing more authentic discuss the spelling system.
- Play music with lyrics in the
variety (or have students bring in examples to play).
Activities: write out the lyrics, compare spelling
systems, discuss the language used (its authenticity,
- Accommodation: Let students
use their home variety in various classroom activities:
role-playing writing in journals, or in literature (short
stories, poetry, drama), acting out plays with dialogue
in the variety.
- Have students discover the
grammatical rules of their home variety. Some activities
for students: trying to translate passages (poems,
instructions, etc.) into the variety, creating lessons
for teaching someone the variety, making up a test in the
variety (e.g. with acceptable and unacceptable
Here are some tips
sent in by readers of this site:
- from Lee Fagan in
Use the poetry of Paul Lawrence
Dunbar (1872-1905) who wrote beautifully in both the
dialect of his parents, who had been slaves, and in
classical English, and whose biography also provides
plenty of stimulii for discussion.
- from Virginia
Ravenscroft-Scott in Madison, Wisconsin:
Two books to recommend:
"The Real Ebonics Debate" -
Lisa Delpit & Theresa Perry, eds.
"The Skin That We Speak" - Lisa
Delpit & Joanne Kilgour Dowdy, eds.
Both include many academic
articles but also examples of classroom practices. See
especially the interview with Carrie Secret in "The Real
- from Jody Rickard in
Plays are helpful in the
classroom. Students do research and write a play while
talking their own variety then redo the play in standard
- from Yolanda Taylor in
Buffalo, New York:
Have students collect language
data from the speech community, transcribe it, and have
students use it to answer questions about grammatical
patterns, for example.
Encourage students to be
reflective about language and its context. Regularly have
them examine their own attitudes towards the variety and
what influences their attitudes. Over the course of a
semester of year as students are taught overtly about
their language and its worth and beauty, also have them
monitor changes in their attitudes.
Keep the issue of contextual
use of a given language variety at the forefront. Help
students feel comfortable with the idea of style-shifting
and have them think of situations in their own lives in
which it would be more appropriate to choose one variety