The impact of African American English on language proficiency in adolescent speakers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
June Graham Bethea (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Alan Kamhi

Abstract: The purpose of the current research was to investigate the relationship between AAE, complex syntax, and lexical diversity in adolescent African American English speaking students in spoken and written language. Previous studies (Craig & Washington, 1994, 1995) have found a positive relationship between AAE use and complex syntax in spoken language. The study also investigated the relationship of AAE use, vocabulary, and lexical diversity. Participants were 32 (16 boys, 16 girls) typically developing 7th grade middle school students. All participants were classified as low, moderate, and high users of African American English. Spoken and written samples were analyzed for complex syntax, vocabulary use (Tier 2 and 3 words), and lexical diversity. There were no significant differences in syntactic complexity, TTR, and vocabulary use as a function of AAE use. The only significant correlations between AAE use and these measures were in the low moderate range (r = .32-.36). The findings of this study were thus inconsistent with previous studies by Craig and Washington (1994, 1995), but were consistent with the more recent study by Jackson and Roberts (2001). Future studies should continue to examine how AAE changes overtime and how AAE use may influence syntactic and lexical aspects of language.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
African American English, Complex syntax, Lexical diversity
Black English
African American children $x Language
African American children $x Education
English language $x Study and teaching $x African American students
Language and education

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