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Addressing English teachers’ concerns about decentering Standard English

Mike Metz (Learning, Teaching and Curriculum, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 4 December 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to address concerns of English teachers considering opening up their classrooms to multiple varieties of English.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the author’s experience as a teacher educator and professional developer in different regions of the USA, this narrative paper groups teachers’ concerns into general categories and offers responses to the most common questions.

Findings

Teachers want to know why they should make room in their classrooms for multiple Englishes; what they should teach differently; how they learn about English variation; how to balance Standardized English and other Englishes; and how these apply to English Learners and/or White speakers of Standardized English.

Practical implications

The study describes the author’s approach to teaching about language as a way to promote social justice and equality, the value of increasing students’ linguistic repertoires and why it is necessary to address listeners as well as speakers. As teachers attempt to adopt and adapt new approaches to teaching English language suggested in the research literature, they need to know their challenges and concerns are heard and addressed. Teacher educators working to support these teachers need ways to address teachers’ concerns.

Social implications

This paper emphasizes the importance of teaching mainstream, White, Standard English-speaking students about English language variation. By emphasizing the role of the listener and teaching students to hear language through an expanded language repertoire, English teachers can reduce the prejudice attached to historically stigmatized dialects of English.

Originality/value

This paper provides a needed perspective on how to work with teachers who express legitimate concerns about what it means to decenter Standardized English in English classrooms.

Keywords

Citation

Metz, M. (2017), "Addressing English teachers’ concerns about decentering Standard English", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 363-374. https://doi.org/10.1108/ETPC-05-2017-0062

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited