Abstract

Code-switching and code-meshing pedagogies, though they are two vastly different approaches, do not consider that some features of African American Verbal Tradition (AVT) are and/or have become rhetorically effective mainstream communication structures in academic writing. This article explores how teaching language/dialect difference in majority white school settings, using contrastive-analysis techniques such as code switching may have highly negative effects on African American Language (AAL) speakers. Code-switching maintains that AAL and other “non-standard” language varieties are only appropriate for use in the home or social settings. Thus, as an alternative to code-switching pedagogical practices, the author introduces a comparative approach that may be applied across all minority language groups. This technique highlights African and African American contributions to standardized American written communication structures and demonstrates the value of AVT in academic settings. In the accompanying lesson plan, students are invited to think about how the English language, as a field, is constantly evolving and changing in our diverse, ever-widening international community; they are then given opportunities to use various writing instruction pedagogies to articulate theories, histories, methods, and practices.

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