Imperial Valley College Faculty Websites

You are here:Instructors»David Sheppard»CDEV 104»Language notes
Thursday, 15 November 2012 12:16

Language notes

Written by David Sheppard
Rate this item
(0 votes)



It is a critical tool in the development of identity, and intellectual and psychological growth.

Language as a Socializing Agent

Language is used to socialize children- 

Children naturally absorb the language around them

Language can be vocal or non-verbal

Almost all children have the ability to learn one or more native languages.

Language Diversity in the U.S.

The USA has a rich diversity of language

There were 47 million non-English speakers in the United States in the year 2000.

There were 329 languages spoken in the United States in 2000.

More Languages Worldwide 

USA focuses on English as the ‘Official language---The advantages of bilingualism or multilingualism are often overlooked by the U.S.


In many world nations, children are expected to learn at least two languages.

Nature of Language

There is no good language or bad language

Society places different social values on different language and dialect groups.

Cultural Influences

Language use is culturally determined.

Western society places value on time (saved, lost, or wasted).

The Lakota Sioux have no words for “late” or “waiting.”

Southerners often engage in “small talk” (the ball game, for example) before business is discussed.


Expressions and words tend to be identified with particular periods of time, but are then replaced

 ( 60’s=groovy!”

Language systems are dynamic, changing constantly.


Bilingualism, the ability to speak two languages, is often difficult for students to maintain without support structures. 

Schools encourage use of just English, and some students are encouraged to give up their home language

Research suggests bilingual education is more effective than a strictly monolingual approach.


Accent generally refers to how an individual pronounces words.

Accents sound different from standard English only in how the words are pronounced.

A person may have strong accent, yet speak in standard English.


In the United States there are many different dialects. 

Some dialects are social dialects, while others are regional dialects.

Regional dialects ( Southern drawls, and New York ) tend to differ primarily in the use of vowels.

Some dialects enjoy greater social acceptance and prestige than others.

Social Class Dialects

Social dialects. Ebonics is a dialect used by the majority of working-class African Americans.

Differences in Dialects

Variations in language patterns are significant when compared by:



Socioeconomic status

Ethnic group

Geographic region

Standard English

No single dialect is identified as Standard English.

Norms vary with communities, and there are two norms:

The informal standard, which is considered proper in a community

The formal standard, which is the acceptable written language

Sign Language

Some languages are neither spoken nor written.

Individuals who are deaf and unable to hear the sounds used in oral language may use sign language.

American Sign Language (ASL) is used by the majority of individuals with deafness in the United States and Canada.

ASL has its own complex grammar and syntax

Signed English is another system that translates English oral or written word into sign language.

Deaf Culture

Non-Verbal Communication

The total meaning of communication goes beyond the surface message that is stated.

Meaning is often sent nonverbally through body language.

It may strengthen or contradict verbal communication.

It is culturally influenced.

Second Language Acquisition 

First language is acquired naturally through constant interaction.

*Knowledge of the first language plays an important role in acquiring and learning a second language.

ELLs and Schooling

By 2026, there will be an estimate of 15 million ELLs in U.S. public schools.

It is best to allow children learn in their first language until they are able to function well in English.

Equally important is teachers’ responsibility to understand and value cultural and linguistic differences.

Language and Educational Assessment

Many tests rely heavily on language skill and understanding,

Poor test scores may be due to language level, not academic knowledge

Bilingual Education Programs

Transitional programs emphasize the move from home language and culture to English as soon as possible (typically by 3rd grade).

Maintenance programs develop students’ first and second language skills simultaneously, maintaining the first language while acquiring the second.

Lau Decision

While not mandating bilingual education, the Supreme Court stipulated that special language programs were necessary for equal educational opportunities for non-English speaking students .

Gave rise to ESL ( English as a second language) programs at schools

English as a Second Language

ESL is often confused with bilingual education.

Like bilingual education, ESL promotes English proficiency for English language learners.

ESL relies exclusively on English for teaching and learning.

ESL is used extensively in the United States as a primary medium to assimilate ELL children into the linguistic mainstream.

Sheltered English Immersion

Nearly all instruction in English.

During this time, ELL students are sheltered temporarily from competing academically with native English-speaking students in mainstream classes.

Bilingual Education

“Bilingual Education is the use of two languages as media of instruction.”

“The primary goal of bilingual education is to teach children concepts, knowledge, and skills in the language they know best and to reinforce this information through the use of English.”


 Baca, L., and Cervantes, H. (2004). The Bilingual Special Education Inter