ATTITUDE Sub-Competency

Engagement in Understanding Culture
and Intercultural Communication

Painting on the side of a house in the Dominican Republic

Painting on the side of a house in the Dominican Republic

Sociolinguistic competence for children who speak AAVE
Using AAVE to teach SAE in LA Schools from DYSA (Do you speak American): embedded below

There is a cultural history of a sort of courtship in the streets in Spanish speaking countries:
the “Piropo.” Current dictionary definitions include: a. catcall, b. flirtacious comment,
c. compliment, and d. pick-up line (1_SOC). During 16th century Spain, when upper class women did not go out without a chaperone or companion (as in most countries of the time), men of the same class were able to flirt in the open by making poetic comments about their grace and beauty. They were circumscribed and very polite and women were not to reply. As time went on, the custom spread to other Spanish speaking countries and social classes. Morphing through the centuries until today, such comments are now considered rude and mysogynistic. Spain passed a law in the 1930’s prohibiting impolite and vulgar expressions; its violation resulted in a fine or jail time. Today, we consider such commentary the objectification of her as a person and a violation of her public space. The “piropo”of today is a powerful example of linguistic-cultural evolution: an intercultural communicative development. 

Published on May 8, 2012

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is prevalent among certain groups of       African-Americans in this country. Those who speak Standard American English (SAE) disempower these people. AAVE is an impenetrable barrier to socio-economic success and cultural acceptance. Stigma evokes behavior that can create affective filters which result in isolation and disenfranchisement. To encourage prople who only speak AAVE, or who refuse to speak SAE because of self-imposed filters, to learn the benefits of SAE and to accept its validity is the first step. It is an example of the task all teachers face when introducing a language which either represents colonialism and imperialism, or is simply foreign. Intercultural communication through showing the value of AAVE along with the value of SAE, can break down these filters. In teaching SAE, it is essential to connect its value to students’ lives without using it to demean AAVE: the road to all successful target language teaching and learning. 

The clip in my document list, shown above, demonstrates how many California schools (in the wake of the 1996 Oakland, CA Ebonics controversy) use knowledge and structure of African American Vernacular English (AAVE or Ebonics) in the classroom as a tool for teaching children (who are speakers of non-standard dialects of English, such as AAVE) how to speak and use the standard American English dialect.