Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Teacher Education

First Advisor

Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham

Relational Format



In the United States, the language of education is American English; although everyone speaks a dialect, the institution of education values a standard, which devalues nonstandard varieties of English like African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Because language is intricately connected to identity, the way that AAVE is or is not included in classroom pedagogy points to the inclusion, or lack thereof, of students who speak vernaculars of English. Research shows that AAVE is related to Southern American English and exists proportionately in the south. Because Mississippi, a southern state, continuously ranks as one of the states with the lowest test scores, it is necessary to investigate how AAVE-speaking students, comprising nearly half of the student population, are integrated into a classroom that teaches to a standard. Additionally, since a standard is required, one must consider how to teach in a way that includes dialects of English but allows for student and teacher success in the classroom. How can Mississippi K-12 educators incorporate dialects, specifically AAVE, in their classrooms? Thus, the thesis presented will investigate prior research regarding the incorporation of AAVE in the classroom to build a teacher’s guide for Mississippi educators. To begin, the thesis will build a foundational knowledge of dialect features of AAVE and explain replacive and additive attitudes toward the dialect’s incorporation in the classroom from a linguistic standpoint to better understand how to guide teachers. Next, the thesis will explore the experiences of students who speak AAVE, as they hold an equal share of the classroom environment. The thesis will look at the linguistic approach to fostering dialectal diversity in the K-12 classroom, then investigate the classroom practices already in use to build upon for Mississippi educators. Finally, the thesis will culminate in the creation of a guide for educators in K-12 Mississippi classrooms. Through this research, the thesis aims to understand the previous research and suggest a potential model for education in Mississippi to better serve student AAVE speakers.

Included in

Linguistics Commons



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