Literacy Blog – Codeswitching

I really enjoyed reading about oral language development and its important role in literacy.  The readings made me question “English only” policies and which strategies are most effective in terms of literary development in the classroom.

Prior to today’s reading, I really didn’t know what the term codeswitching meant.  I realized that it is important for students to be able to alternate between different dialects and recognize when to use them.  In my classroom, I hope to include books that feature code switching and language variation so students can see that the language they speak at home is acceptable, too.  The reading actually made me think of a book in my placement classroom called “YO! Yes?”.  It’s about two little boys who are having a conversation, one speaking in a relaxed dialect and the other in standard English.  The book is simple, but it presents the message that we all have different ways of communicating, but we are all saying the same things.  My CT hasn’t read the book to her students, but they enjoy reading it during independent reading time.

I hope that I can include Halliday’s literacy events in my own classroom.  I want to have my students participate in informal literacy activities such as writing notes to each other so that they can become comfortable with their own oral language.

I have realized that I need to adopt a contrastive perspective rather than a correctionist one.  I must show my students that their home language is not incorrect, just different from Standard English.  I think I will struggle with this, however, because I am such a perfectionist when it comes to proper grammar in speech.  But I want all of my students to feel comfortable and safe in my classroom, regardless of their dialect or the language barriers they face.  In order to achieve that, I must foster acceptance and understanding of all different types of oral language.



Filed under EDUC 513 - Teaching Language Arts and Reading

2 responses to “Literacy Blog – Codeswitching

  1. eshrop

    That’s really cool that you already have read a book that relates to codeswitching in your classroom! And that’s awesome that the kids really enjoy reading the book. I think that your kid’s picking out that book is a good example of when we allow students to pick their own stories, they can surprise us into choosing really educational stories that can teach a great lesson. I think it will be hard as well to codeswitch and to let students speak in their own dialect at times but teach them how to succeed in school. However, I think it is totally worth it for the kids to gain that skill of being able to codeswitch as well.

  2. melissaeller

    Katie –

    I definitely enjoyed the discussion of codeswitching as well. It seems like such a difficult challenge for the classroom – we went to include all children and encourage them to bring their own culture and language into school with them, but I can only imagine trying to decipher the nuances and dialects of a 20+ student classroom.
    That book seems like it would be a great resource for teachers though – a great way to introduce different cultures … and not even different cultures around the world but different cultures within our own school and classroom. I will have to keep that title in mind for the future.

    Great post!

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