Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

DiLalla, David

Second Advisor

Charkova, Krassimira

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to elucidate the effects of language ideologies on African-American students' feelings of acceptance and identity in the classroom. For African-American students, the use of African American English is valued for its cultural inclusivity yet is shunned for its lack of linguistic capital in educational settings. This creates an antimony which furthers alienates the home dialect, often African-American English (AAE) from the dominant code, Standard American English (SAE). For this study, 18 African-American students, ages 12-13 were interviewed. Respondents were given a mixed response questionnaire administered in an interview format. The responses were then analyzed using basic statistical analysis. Statistical Power to detect effects was very limited due to small sample size. The results suggest that students valued the use of African American English for personal and home settings but did not find it appropriate for use in school when addressing the teacher. Implications suggest that educators should be ardent about developing an ethno-linguistic culture in the classroom. Teachers and administrators should work to affirm students' home language, where language learning begins, and use this linguistic knowledge in order to propel students forward academically.

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