Archive for the ‘Pedagogical Implications’ Category

Pedagogical Implications

Posted: November 26, 2012 in Pedagogical Implications

The practice of language augmentation could be used for second language learners with these sketches. We could use these sketches to illustrate augmentation and how some words such as “tizzight” and “fo’ shizzle” have been created by speakers of AAVE. Some of these slang words have outgrown AAVE and can be heard by speakers that don’t speak AAVE. However, it can seem kind of absurd to use these if you are not a speaker of AAVE as the writers point out in some of the sketches.

Students can learn that liberal use, or any use at all, of words from a different dialect can be strange, or inappropriate, for speakers that are not members of certain groups that use the dialect. With the spread of hip-hop to a global audience, more and more second language English speakers are becoming aware of AAVE. Students should learn that just because they hear something in a hip hop song, it might not be a good idea for them to adopt it. It is important for the L2 teacher to point this out. As language teachers we must develop communicative competence in our students. For example, I had several high school students in Poland that did not understand the history and power of the N word. They sorely lacked the sociolinguistic competence when using this term. They would use it freely and mimic how they heard it in the hip-hop songs. I often had to explicitly inform certain students that this was not acceptable, especially the students that had plans to visit America. I fear what would have happened to those skinny white Polish kids had they come to America and said “What’s up my N” to every person they met! These sketches can illustrate that language crossing can be very inappropriate and reveal the ignorance of the speaker. Language educators must develop all the components of communicative competence in our students.

The prolific use of derogatory terms in some of the sketches could cause many teachers to not use these clips in their language classes. However, like SE, AAVE has different varieties with different levels of formality and politeness. Just like not every speaker of SE is going to speak formally and never use derogatory terms, AAVE speakers also demonstrate variation. This is illustrated in many sketches on the Chappelle show. Not every black speaker speaks with the same variety of AAVE. Different clips or sketches from this show could be used as comparison pieces with one another or with another show where the speakers use AAVE. In both clips, there would be speakers using AAVE. In one clip, derogatory terms are used. In the other, derogatory terms are not used. That way, the student can see that the stereotypical version of AAVE made famous in popular culture is not the version of AAVE spoken by everyone that uses it. All too often people associate AAVE with what they here in a hip-hop song. This is not the case and using these sketches for comparison exercises could make that apparent.

The sketches could be used to illustrate that not all black people use AAVE. The black reporter in the “Black Bush” sketch does not use AAVE. Taking this idea even further, we can illustrate that there are varieties within AAVE and SE that can be used. In addition to the comparison task mentioned above where students are comparing the varieties for levels of formality and the use of derogatory terms, students can look for differences between varieties of AAVE and see how SE and AAVE are not always mutually exclusive. A speaker does not necessarily speak one or the other. Speakers can use elements of both in their language. Chappelle’s Black Bush character uses a variety of different dialects. Sometimes he speaks SE, sometimes he speaks AAVE, and sometimes he mixes the two dialects. Al the weatherman also uses both SE and AAVE. We can use this sketch to show the diversity in language.

Lastly, from a macro perspective, we could use these sketches to teach our second language students about AAVE in general and discuss the different opinions that people have about the language. Because some of our students might be unfamiliar with AAVE, we could use the Chappelle show to introduce it. Then we could have our students read differing opinions on the use of AAVE. Reading these viewpoints, students would not only learn about AAVE but they would also learn about what constitutes a language. (This would be especially interesting in a place like Singapore that has a common dialect, Singlish, that is also frowned upon by many as not a “true” language.) After the students are familiar with both sides of the issue, we could create a mock debate in class. Having a mock debate in class would lead to further instruction of debate phrases, terms, or gambits. Through these clips, we could teach our students not only about AAVE but also about the issues surrounding it.

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