Prior to writing my "lens" essay, I found many interesting sources involving the strengths of dialects and accented forms of English. The most interesting source that I referenced in my essay was a blog titled A Beijinger in America created by Bridget Pei, a student from last semester's English 101 Multilingualism course taught by Dr. Suhr-Sytsma. In this blog, Bridget discusses her transition from China to America, as a Chinese international student. She distinctly uses Chinese-accented English to communicate her thoughts, and specifically tries to relate to international students who have gone through or are going through the same experiences as her. In my essay, I explained my observation that Bridget Pei's blog is not only an efficient but also an engaging way to connect to specific audiences, through her distinct use of an accented form of English. I elaborate that Pei's language is concise, despite some grammatical flaws, and is also easily relatable to other Chinese students because her style matches the way Chinese international students think in and use English. I argued that this type of connection primed Chinese accented English [or other accented forms of English for that matter] for narrative writing and travel essays, similar to how Vershawn Ashanti Young argued that "the rhetorical devices of blacks can add to the writing proficiency of whites and everybody else" (Young 71). I discussed that within the tourism industry, many travel brochures and writing must be able to persuade tourists to visit specific places. Tourism has a lot to do with the crossing of cultures and races, as people enjoy exploring new countries. In turn, I argue that using accented forms of English in western English pedagogy can be useful in that it helps students, whose native languages are not English, develop skills in narrative writing, since accented forms of English are so easily relatable to audiences/readers who share similar heritages and backgrounds as the writer. Using accented forms of English such as Yiddish English or Chinese-accented English can help break language barriers within the tourism industry and make traveling a more appealing activity.
The text I chose is Affirming Students' Right to Their Own Language: Bridging Language Policies and Pedagogical Practices. The introduction and first chapter mainly discuss the issue of educational inequality inherent in western pedagogy. It is a topic similarly covered by Vershawn Ashanti Young and Suhanthie Motha. In essence, this book is a collective effort of various teachers, aligned to aid in combating the linguistic inequality inherent in English pedagogy. Speaking mostly to ELT instructors, this book aims to enlighten and provide insight to what it means to allow students the right to their own language. More specifically, the most prominent example that is alluded to is the 1974 National Council of Teachers of English resolution that specifically asserts and acknowledges students' rights to their own language. This resolution is abbreviated as STROL. Although this resolution has been made public, many still do not fully understand the nuances behind it. In turn, the book serves to elaborate on the specific methods that teachers can implement in classrooms to maintain and show awareness of STROL. While some of these methods are direct, the most important ones are conveyed to the reader in the form of interviews, characterized by the accented forms of English used throughout them. Many of those who are interviewed are distinguished authors and lecturers, to convey the message that the most intelligent people may use non-Standard forms of English [Standard English is the term used to describe the type of English taught and emphasized in western English pedagogy]. Similar to Young, the interviews are meant to convey the message that vernacular forms of English are just as effective if not more effective in communication as Standard English. The text advances from merely giving specific examples of how teachers can implement STROL into their curriculums and discourse, to providing the readers [who are presumably ELT/ ESL instructors] with a more nuanced understanding of accented or vernacular English via the interviews. While pointing out the strengths and shortcomings of STROL, this text serves to emphasize and teach its readers a deeper explanation behind the importance of the various dialects and accented forms of English and the roles they play in and out of the classroom.
Students' Right to Their Own Language. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1974. Print.