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This is a textbook for educators and clinicians working with children whose primary deficits differ from the Standard American English (SAE) normally taught in schools.
Summary: This is a textbook for educators and clinicians working with children whose primary dialects differ from the Standard American English (SAE) normally taught in schools. Eight chapters describe different aspects of educating children of various dialects. The chapter called, “Language Variation in the United States” discusses the nature of language variation and how a linguistic difference is not a disorder. The chapter, “Exploring Dialects” discusses specific differences in the structure of common dialects and provides examples of what is normal for a dialect but would be considered disordered in SAE. The chapter called, “Communicative Interaction” explores various interactive pattern characteristics of groups, including pragmatic differences related to cultures. According to the authors, the key consideration in distinguishing between a difference and a disorder is whether the child’s performance differs significantly from peers with similar experiences.
Importance: This work confirmed that children should always be compared to their peers and speech community during evaluation. Clinicians working with children who do not speak SAE (culturally and linguistically diverse) should be familiar with the dialect and culture of their clients. It is essential to know what is typical for that child’s speech community in making a distinction between a language disorder and a language difference. As Dialects in Schools and Communities points out, it is not only verbal differences clinicians should be familiar with but pragmatic differences as well. This is relevant in assessment not only because it is important to compare a child to his or her peers rather than the dialect of the examiner but also because standardized tests are almost always written, administered, and scored in SAE. These tests are invalid and biased for a number of reasons, but it is notable here because they are not designed for minority dialects in the United States.
Wolfram, W., Adger, C. T., & Christian, D. (1999). Dialects in schools and communities. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.