Scholarships & Grants
Language Studies Foundation
An International Non-Profit Organization

2014 Founders’ Emergent Scholars Award

Winner of the Founders' Emergent Scholars Award

Dr. Jill Hallett, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northeastern Illinois University, and University of Illinois at Chicago

"Contexts and Consequences for Student AAE Use in the Classroom"


This research examines high school students’ use of African American English (AAE) in classrooms with varying levels of ‘procedural’ and ‘substantive’ engagement (Nystrom and Gamoran 1991). Procedural engagement includes rote and predictable classroom discourse or communication about classroom procedures, and is considered a form of cultural replication (Wells 1993:3). Substantive engagement involves malleable classroom discourse in which questions and responses are authentic and incorporated into further learning. In this study, classroom context is examined for type of engagement, turn length, and teacher response to student AAE use. Student AAE use is analyzed by ethnicity, gender, teacher, and features used. The data show a predominant use of AAE by African American and female students, and students of one particular teacher, whose classroom style is highly discussion-based and student-centered as shown by turn length and number of turns. Furthermore, student AAE use is particularly prevalent in contexts of substantive engagement. Analysis of type of engagement in studies such as this serves well in understanding the linguistic choices that the students feel enabled to make in the classroom, and calls for further research on these choices with respect to subsequent discussion, and student achievement on authentic measures.

Click here to read about the 2012 awardee, Dr. Sunny Lau!