No Quick Fixes

My previous entry discussed the potential effects we hope to obtain with regard to linguistics and language. But looking deeper into that, I started to think about and consider the approach and perspectives we need in order to achieve this ultimate linguistic goal. I briefly made mention of working with classrooms on this or individuals. In a classroom environment students can be directed towards specific nuances of language through not only textbooks but open and positive discussions with their peers. Dialect and linguistic conversations could occur in many classroom settings, from Shakespeare to literature, primary education courses, and business communications courses. There are many opportunities for students to gain a deeper understanding of culture and language. But it’s difficult, students and teachers have little time to work through material in a given semester. So perhaps it’s not a question of where students should learn about language discrimination, but a matter of when. Primary and secondary classrooms certainly afford students much more time to cover such topics. However, that requires instructors and administrations to have the proper training to engage with students in the first place. A tough sell when you consider the platitude of issues most teachers face in contemporary America.
Many classrooms are severely underfunded, understaffed, and over their ideal capacity for learning and engagement. And I would wager that even if teachers and school administrators were willing to invest the time and money into such efforts, many other overlooked areas (such as history, art, and music), might argue for the same consideration. This of course goes back to the fact that language discrimination and knowledge is just one color in the spectrum of issues teachers and students face in this country. America as a whole has a poor educational infrastructure, as do many areas of our society and economy. Restructuring how language is taught and presented to students will require new funding, academic planning, political interests, and the addressment of cultural and discriminatory biases against users of these linguistic features. People have to show that the interest is a worthwhile investment – and it is. It would make workplace communication and interpersonal communication more effective. People would face less discrimination when seeking housing, employment or assistance of other kinds. It is not an unreachable goal, but it is one that requires great time and effort by linguists throughout the country.

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