Vernaculars in the Classroom : Paradoxes, Pedagogy, Possibilities book cover
1st Edition

Vernaculars in the Classroom
Paradoxes, Pedagogy, Possibilities

ISBN 9781138286818
Published November 18, 2016 by Routledge
228 Pages

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Book Description

This book draws on applied linguistics and literary studies to offer concrete means of engaging with vernacular language and literature in secondary and college classrooms. The authors embrace a language-as-resource orientation, countering the popular narrative of vernaculars as problems in schools. The book is divided into two parts, with the first half of the book providing linguistic and pedagogical background, and the second half offering literary case studies for teaching. Part I examines the historical and continued devaluing of vernaculars in schools, incorporating clear, usable explanations of relevant theories. This section also outlines the central myths and paradoxes surrounding vernacular languages and literatures, includes productive ways for teachers to address those myths and paradoxes, and explores challenges and possibilities for vernacular language pedagogy.

In Part II, the authors provide pedagogical case studies using literary texts written in vernacular Englishes from around the world. Each chapter examines a vernacular-related topic, and concludes with discussion questions and writing assignments; an appendix contains the poems and short stories discussed, and other teaching resources. The book provides a model of interdisciplinary inquiry that can be beneficial to scholars and practitioners in composition, literature, and applied linguistics, as well as students of all linguistic backgrounds.

Table of Contents

Part I: Vernacular Englishes: Crossroads of Linguistics and Literature

1. Introduction

2. Vernacular Language and Literature: Myths and Paradoxes

3. Vernacular Use in School: Evolution of Responses and Related  Challenges

4. Pedagogical Possibilities

Part II: Texts and Topics: Case Studies for Teaching

5. Canonicity and Intertextuality: Louise Bennett, "Bans O’Killing" and Sapphire, Push

6. Authenticity: Zora Neale Hurston, "Story in Harlem Slang" and Paul Keens-Douglas, "Wukhand"

7. Code-switching: John Kasaipwalova, "Betel Nut is Bad Magic for Airplanes"; Louise Bennett, "Colonisation in Reverse"; Patricia Grace, "Letters from Whetu"; and Others

8. Delegitimization: Mark Twain, "A True Story Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It"

9. Form and Formal Innovation: Roddy Doyle, The Snapper

10. Conclusion

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Shondel Nero is Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning at New York University, USA. She is the author of Englishes in Contact: Anglophone Caribbean Students in an Urban College and editor of Dialects, Englishes, Creoles, and Education (Routledge). Her research has appeared in TESOL Quarterly, World Englishes, Language and Education, and other journals.

Dohra Ahmad is Associate Professor of English at St. John’s University, USA. She is the author of Landscapes of Hope: Anti-Colonial Utopianism in America and editor of Rotten English: A Literary Anthology. Her essays have appeared in ELH, the Yale Journal of Criticism, Social Text, and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature.


"This is a much needed publication that translates current scholarly realizations about global English for instructional purposes." -- Suresh Canagarajah, Pennsylvania State University, USA

"Nero and Ahmad show that there is no conflict between using vernacular and so-called standard English in the classroom. Indeed, the authors explicitly ask for teaching that helps students master "standard" written English, while still inviting them to write often in the vernacular. This is an important and valuable book." -- Peter Elbow, University of Massachusetts, USA

"This book offers a fresh and exciting new look at vernacular Englishes from the perspective of literary studies and of vernacular literary texts from the perspective of applied linguistics. Deftly addressing questions of both language and literature, it provides an invaluable synthesis of disciplinary paradigms, with urgent implications for how we read and teach vernacular texts from around the world." -- Jahan Ramazani, University of Virginia, USA

"This is a book that demonstrates the intellectual, creative, and cultural benefits of engaging the vernacular in the classroom, rather than outlawing or ignoring it. Among the many virtues of this innovative book is that it combines linguistics and literature, theory and application. The pedagogical case studies, virtually ready for classroom use, are especially valuable." -- John Rickford, Stanford University, USA

"This pioneering, visionary work reflects the curricular innovations and pedagogical strategies that these two gifted scholar-teachers have developed over the years and tested in the crucible of the classroom. At long last, the language-literature paradigm is shifting, and Nero and Ahmad’s Vernaculars in the Classroom is leading the way. Go head wit yall bad self!"-- Geneva Smitherman, Michigan State University, USA

"Nero and Ahmad’s brilliant book shows us that vernacular language is a powerful tool that not only expresses meaning as fully as any "standard" language, but authenticates its speakers and creates sophisticated stylistic effects." -- Sandra Wilde, Hunter College, USA

"Vernaculars in the Classroom: Paradoxes, Pedagogy, Possibilities, by Shondel Nero and Dohra Ahmad, represents a unique instance of interdisciplinary research. The two authors, a linguist and a scholar of literature, unite their experiences and interests in vernacular expression to create an invaluable resource that exposes the myths and paradoxes that permeate the use of vernacular languages in schools. Concurrently, it offers answers and practical strategies for teachers to critically engage vernaculars in knowledge construction." – Maria Cecilia Schwedhelm, Language and Education Journal, 2016