Linguistic Diversity, Access, and Risk

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Baugh, John
Review of Research in Education
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01-16-2015 2:55 PM
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Rarely do we view educational risk from a linguistic perspective. There are noteworthy exceptions, among them ValdA(C)s (1996) and Zentella (1997). However, of the educational literature devoted to risk, the vast majority attends to the array of attributes and circumstances that perpetuate cycles of poverty (Williams, 1970). The aim of this discussion is to examine educational risk, paying particular attention to the possible existence of a linguistic stereotype threat. If such a threat does exist, it is very possible or even likely that linguistic stereotyping inhibits the academic achievement of many students who lack fluency in the dominant linguistic norms of their local speech communities. From a linguistic point of view, students in any speech community tend to fit within three general categories, including native speakers of the dominant local language(s) = DL(s), native speakers of nonstandard dialects of the dominant local language(s) = NSDL(s), and those for whom the dominant local language(s) is/(are) not native = NNDL(s). Beyond personal linguistic circumstances, people have different access to the very learning opportunities that accentuate academic vulnerabilities (or advantages) for diverse students anywhere in the world. I am mindful that a great deal of the research available on this topic is U.S.-centric. As a result, most of the illustrations provided here are drawn from educational circumstances in the United States. However, I would like to reassure readers that to the fullest extent possible, I will try to identify instances wherein globally, matters of linguistic diversity, in combination with differing access to educational resources, can have a profound impact on the likelihood that students will obtain a competent and competitive education, that is, one that prepares them to pursue higher education or a profession that utilizes their academic preparation successfully. Children throughout the world do not have equal access to education. Those |
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