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Should I correct local dialect?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by pjach, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. pjach

    pjach New commenter

    teach in a primary school in Yorkshire and encounter many colloquialisms and
    regional dialect.

    Should I correct their speech or should I help protect the
    regional language identity? As an RP speaker, my instinct is always to correct
    colloquialisms, however I always hold back for fear of eroding their language

    on’computer (omitting the: also indefinite

    there anyone wi’ya (with you)

    while 6 (10 until 6)

    warn’t (I wasn’t)

    didn’t do owt (nothing/anything)

    Obviously in formal writing this is not acceptable, but
    in everyday speech?
    Opinions/advice please!

  2. byjingo

    byjingo New commenter

    I know exactly what you mean. In my area it is 'we was', ' you was'. Phrases used by my TA's too!
    The way I approached it was to repeat what they said, so:
    Sainsbury's was open 10 while 6
    I would simply say, "I think you are right, Mavis, Sainsbury's was open from 6 until 10."
    You are not telling them they are wrong but you are modelling an alternative. And actually these seem to me to be genuine dialectal phrases, which use words in a different way. We can't go around making everyone sound RP. I love the variations in dialect that we get in our small island.
  3. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    It's important to distinguish between SE and RP as the two are quite different. Accent and dialect are completely different things.
    Whilst regional dialects are important and valuable, it's important that children should be taught when SE should be used. As the classroom is a fairly formal environment, they should be encouraged to use SE in lessons or in other formal settings, such as assemblies etc.
    The above poster's strategy of repeating the child's turn of phrase in SE is a good one. It gives a good opportunity to model and explain the SE way to say something in a positive way, without suggesting that dialectal English is 'wrong' (which of course it isn't; just inappropriate at times).
    I personally don't feel that accent should ever be 'corrected' as there is no such thing as a 'correct' accent. RP is no more correct than any other accent. Any attempt to enforce children to use RP would be quite wrong as well as nigh on impossible.
  4. byjingo

    byjingo New commenter

    You are indeed right about the SE and RP, nick.
  5. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I do wish standard English was reinforced at our school. My children do the "we was you was" thing all the time and I loathe it intensely. I'm not even sure where it comes from and it amazes me that it sticks even over the summer holidays. It is not the way any of our family speaks.
    They are only young and I don't really know whether it is now a habit for life. If it is, I am going to cry! I am not sure whether they write this way too or not.
    I correct it at home constantly. If they say "we was very happy yesterday" I say "we ............ " and they complete the sentence correctly. Despite this, I seem to be making no headway whatsoever.
  6. I talked about it with my class (yr 3/4). They were beginning to understand the difference between formal and informal speech, and we talked about standard English for writing (can't remember whether I called it SE as such, or just formal English), and I expected them to do their best to use SE in the classroom, (another angle on 'talk for writing') but dialect was fine in the playground. And I did the modelling back thing too. It is tricky when the TA models dialect and doesn't seem aware though.

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