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Harnessing Linguistic Variation to Improve Education

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Androula Yiakoumetti

This volume brings together research carried out in a variety of geographic and linguistic contexts including Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States and explores efforts to incorporate linguistic diversity into education and to ‘harness’ this diversity for learners’ benefit. It challenges the largely anachronistic ideology that promotes exclusive use of an educational monolingual standard variety and advocates the use in formal education of aboriginal/indigenous languages, minority languages, nonstandard varieties and contact languages.
The contributors examine both historical and current practices for including linguistic diversity in education by considering specific bidialectal, bilingual and multilingual educational initiatives. The different geographical and linguistic settings covered in the volume are linked together by a unifying theme: linguistic diversity exists all over the world, but it is very rarely utilized effectively for the benefit of students. When it is used, whether in isolated studies or through governmental initiatives, the research findings point systematically to the many educational advantages experienced by linguistically-diverse students. This book will be of interest to teachers and language practitioners, as well as to students and scholars of language and education.

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Jeff Siegel - 11 Educational Approaches for Speakers of Pidgin and Creole Languages 259

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Jef f Siegel 11 Educational Approaches for Speakers of Pidgin and Creole Languages Introduction Pidgin and creole languages develop out of a need for communication among people who do not share a common language – for example, among trading partners or plantation labourers from diverse geographic origins. Most of the words in the vocabulary of the new language come from one of the languages of the people in contact, called the ‘lexifier’ (or sometimes the ‘superstrate’) – usually the language of the group with the most power or prestige. However, the meanings and functions of the words, as well as the way they are pronounced and put together (i.e. the grammatical rules) of the pidgin or creole, are dif ferent to those of the lexifier. Once developed, a pidgin language usually continues to be learned as only an auxiliary language and used when necessary for intergroup com- munication. Its total vocabulary is small, and it has little if any grammatical words and endings – for instance, to indicate past tense or plural. An exam- ple is Chinese Pidgin English, once an important trade language in southern China and Hong Kong. But in some cases, the use of a pidgin is extended in a multilingual community as it becomes the everyday lingua franca. As a result, the language expands over time in its vocabulary and grammar, and becomes what is fittingly called an ‘expanded pidgin’. Examples are Nigerian Pidgin and Melanesian Pidgin. Each of the three dialects of Melanesian Pidgin (Tok Pisin in Papua...

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