Date: Sun, 22 Dec 1996 11:02:52 -0800 From: (Susan Ervin-Tripp) Subject: analogy to bilingualism Sender: To: MIME-version: 1.0 Precedence: bulk

An important distinction seems to be lost in the analogy to bilingualism. In the case of immigrants, comprehension and even phonological discrimination are at issue (in ESL classes I used to ask students to raise their hands to identify whether I had said shit or sheet, bitch or beach, so I know they couldn't HEAR the difference.)

American children understand media English well since they have been exposed all their lives to these forms of standard English in films and television.

What we are talking about is speaking in a certain way, which is fundamentally a social-emotional issue in the case of social variation. Children's capacities to do highly effective role playing and code-switching suggest a route to deal with developing this kind of oral practice, if that is what school boards want. That is a way to turn receptive knowledge into oral use. Whether piecemeal "error-correction" labeled as "translation" works remains to be seen. It appears that this move by the Oakland schools was basically intended to change teacher attitudes and clean up the idea that these kids have "lazy speech".
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Susan M. Ervin-Tripp tel (510) 642-7137 Psychology Department FAX (510) 642-5293 University of California Berkeley CA 94720 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-