Nonstandardized Englishes in Mainstream Literacy Practice
- Patriann SmithPatriann SmithTexas Tech University
The term Englishes refers to the many different varieties of the English, and represents both standardized and nonstandardized forms. Nonstandardized Englishes is used to refer to Englishes that do not adhere to what has been determined to be Standard English within a given context, such that they are referred to as dialects, Creoles, or New Englishes (e.g., African American English). Standardized Englishes is used to refer to the counterparts of the nonstandardized Englishes that have been typically adopted for use in literacy classrooms (e.g., Standard American English).
The field of literacy has addressed nonstandardized Englishes by either focusing on the nonstandardized varieties in isolation from standardized Englishes or by advancing literacy instruction in mainstream classrooms that emphasizes dialect-English speakers’ mastery of standardized Englishes. This approach reflects standard monolingual English ideology and traditional notions of the English language. Operating based on standard monolingual English perspectives implicitly reinforces the view that standardized Englishes and their users are privileged and that speakers of nonstandardized Englishes and their users are inferior. In addition, adhering to traditional notions of English based on their geographical and nation-based use, as opposed to their function based on school, offline, or online contexts regardless of geography, reinforces the concept of the English language as a system and fails to emphasize its communicative and contextual purposes as demanded by our postmodern era of globalization, transnationalism, and internationalization. A translingual approach to Englishes can serve as an alternative to current ways of thinking about literacy instruction because it addresses the needs of both standardized and nonstandardized English-speaking populations. Literacy instruction reframed based on this approach is critical for students’ successful interaction across linguistic and cultural boundaries in the context of the 21st century.