Formulaic Language in the Year Essay

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Racial or ethnically-based teasing and peer pressure has long been associated with academic achievement, as Tyson et al. point out in his 2005 report studying the behaviors of blacks and whites during high school. While Tyson et al. also suggests that "school structures" are somewhat to blame for "stigmas" of "acting white" or "acting high and mighty" (582), he maintains that that teasing and peer pressure and also important components.

Because of the profound social implications of interactions between formulaic speaking and non-formulaic speaking students, teachers in the third year classroom need to be aware of students' interpretation of the formulaic speaking students, monitoring the communication between the groups. In addition to being aware of the situation, teachers should use the problem to educate students about stereotypes and teasing in addition to encouraging formulaic speaking students to express themselves in the language of instruction. Thus, third year students' use of formulaic language has an important impact on social communication skills within the classroom, and teachers must be prepared to not only deal with this situation, but also to view it as a learning opportunity.

While students' use of formulaic language in the third year classroom affects classroom communication through social interaction, it also affects academic classroom communication. Due to O'Neill and Gish's suggestion that the use of such language results in speakers who "cannot be creative with the language," teachers must understand that while formulaic language speakers may give correct answers and responses, they may not be able to creatively reason or consider the academic material, and are instead simply responding in formulas (2008, p. 117). For this reason, teachers need to be ready to respond to this communication dilemma. Because teachers may not always share the students' first language, and students are comfortable with their formulaic methods of speech, they can use these methods to teach standard language skills to formulaic speakers. As a successful model for this practice, teachers can consider the controversial practice of teaching Standard English using Ebonics, or African-American Vernacular English. Inner city instructors often use methods that incorporate students' knowledge of Ebonics to teach Standard English, encouraging the students to make leaps from what they know to what they do not know. For instance, Samuel Perez suggests that several teaching methods can be used to encourage students to use Ebonics to understand Standard English, such as drills where the teacher speaks phrases and students must determine if they are Ebonics or Standard English (2000, p.34). Because third year students will respond much more effectively if asked to learn using speech patterns with which they are comfortable, using similar teaching methods to encourage formulaic speakers to have a deeper understanding of the standard language will be a success. Thus, third graders' use of formulaic language in the classroom causes communication problems, as students may express correct answers without the ability to express themselves or their position in the language of instruction. In order to solve this issue, teachers can use methods of instruction that use formulaic language to teach the standard language, just as many American inner-city teachers have used Ebonics to teach Standard English.

As the opportunities for students to take classes in a variety of locations and countries around the world increases, so to increases the number of students who suffer academic and social woes because they use formulaic speech instead of the standard language of instruction. This situation causes communication difficulties for year three students both socially and academically. While the adverse effects of using this language may have strong implications for a child's education, teachers can also use the situation as a teaching opportunity for both ethnic stereotyping and linguistic skills.


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Perez, Samuel a. (2000). Using Ebonics or Black English as a Bridge to Teaching

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Washington, D.C. Office of Immigration…

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