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Students Study Teacher Attitudes toward African American Vernacular English

Hannah Askin and Mackenzie Fama received grants this summer (2006) to study teacher attitudes towards African-AmHannah Askinerican Vernacular English (AAVE). Under the direction of Professor Anne Charity, they have developed materials for a regional survey of teachers’ attitudes towards the speech of young children. 

Using audio editing software, the two students have created a series of matched-guise tests that target specific AAVE features. These include copula deletion, question intonation, absence of possessive marker s, and absence of third person verbal marker s. The software enables users to alter a speech sample, allowing them to control for a single variable.

The speech samples they have created will be used in an online survey they are developing, which will be accessible to teachers by the end of the summer. Their survey aims to fill the gap in the current empirical data on teacher attitudes, which looks only at attitudes toward AAVE use in general.

Hannah Askin's research was supported by a Chappell summer fellowship. Mackenzie Fama received a Charles Center summer grant. Information on these and other programs is available from the Charles Center.