Resolution on the Application of Dialect Knowledge to Education

March, 1997

Whereas, The American Association for Applied Linguistics recognizes the legitimacy of African American language systems, variously referred to as African-American Vernacular English, Black English, or Ebonics, and their pedagogical importance in helping students acquire standard English;

Whereas, Public discussion of the Oakland School Board's decision on the legitimacy of Ebonics and its usefulness in teaching Standard English demonstrates a lack of public awareness and understanding of the nature and naturalness of different varieties of language;

and Whereas, Students' competence in any dialect of English constitutes an important resource for learning Standard English as an additional dialect;

Therefore be it resolved at the general business meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, convened on this 11th day of March, 1997:

  1. That, All students and teachers should learn scientifically-based information about linguistic diversity and examine the social, political, and educational consequences of differential treatment of dialects and their speakers;
  2. That, Teacher education should systematically incorporate information about language variation and its impact on classroom interaction and about ways of applying that knowledge to enhance the education of all teachers;
  3. That, Research should be undertaken to develop and test methods and materials for teaching about varieties of language and for learning Standard English; and
  4. That, Members of the American Association for Applied Linguistics should seek ways and means to better communicate the theories and principles of the field to the general public on a continuing basis.