Free Essay

African American Vernacular English Code Switching in School

In: English and Literature

Submitted By bbecks55
Words 530
Pages 3
Senator Jones,

I am writing to you to discuss the current bill that would like to ban using the method of “code-switching” from the “home language” of AAE (African American Vernacular English) speakers. I have read a study conducted by a Umass professor regarding this issue, and I have read the bill thoroughly. My recommendation to you is to vote against the bill, and I have some very good reasons for it. Banning the AAE instruction will do more harm then good. Although the bill proposes some good reasons for needing to speak mainstream English, it misses a few key points. They claim that linguistic skills like writing and reading are necessary to an individuals success. They don’t realize however, that AAE is a structured language following rules and patterns. The “code-switching” can actually be a useful technique in teaching AAE speakers how to communicate “properly” in mainstream English.

Proponents of the bill state that the primary purpose of the education system is to prepare students for success in their careers and to participate equally in society. I think that by banning the teaching of AAE to mainstream English will actually prevent children who speak AAE at home from having an equal opportunity in the first place. It is not separate but equal, since these children are starting from a different version of a language altogether. Their foundation in AAE would make normal English instruction worthless. Since AAE follows rules, “code-switching” is a totally viable option. The proponents are saying that teaching these children differently is equivalent to slavery. Teaching them normally, and not using this effective method is more like slavery since they wont actually learn to speak properly. You would be preventing them the ability to learn mainstream English. Professor Green points out that what most people think is an unsuccessful attempt at speaking mainstream English, is an AEE speaker using a different version of English completely. The further we study the patterns and rules of AAE, the easier it will be to help switch the speakers into the mainstream mold that the creators of this bill want.

Saying that the proponents of this bill want what’s best for the AAE speakers is just plain wrong. They have not done their research. If they had, they would know that AAE is not simply a failed attempt at speaking English. They would understand that to switch someone from AAE to mainstream English is no easy task, and passing this bill would make it all but impossible. If we want to move forward and actually help people succeed, not just pretend to help them, we must not allow this bill to pass. If it passes, AAE speakers will be hung out to dry. They will have no way of learning proper English, and any attempt at teaching it to them will most likely fail. Don’t let a poorly researched, opinionated bill cause irreparable damage to linguistic advancement in our state. The current teaching methods of AAE to mainstream English are working perfectly fine, and improving with time. If this bill passes, we will set ourselves back in time, and abolish the only successful method there is!

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