Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts in the Teaching of English (MATE)

First Advisor

Elizabeth Tannenbaum


Learning English can often be a critical factor in people’s lives, and the choice to disengage from learning out of sheer frustration can have devastating psychological and social effects for people who need to acquire English in order to be able to fulfill academic, personal and professional goals. While I was not able to find statistics on a global level, it is easy to believe that English language learners do disengage frequently. This is most obvious in the United States where the Standard English (SE) model of teaching black children has resulted in a high level of disengagement with learning and a nationally disproportionate low level of academic success among people in black communities where there is a difference between the dialect of their spoken language and the SE dialect they encounter in school. In this paper, I attempt to show how the development of the black English (BE) language, and the issue of black literacy in America, reflects how culture and language are forged by "real life" experience. Learning a second language is similarly a "real life" experience. An awareness of this dynamic should be used to inform language teaching methods, if we are to make best use of learner’s time, money and effort, in learning a second language. By focusing on the development of BE, and the subsequent literacy issues, I hope to illuminate how language teaching methods and practices benefit from using a learner’s culture and language.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Methods