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Enhancing Mainstream American English Knowledge in Nonmainstream American English Speakers (Edwards & Rosin, 2016)

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posted on 01.04.2016, 00:00 by Jan R. Edwards, Peggy Rosin
Purpose The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a curriculum supplement designed to enhance awareness of Mainstream American English (MAE) in African American English- (AAE-) speaking prekindergarten children.
Method Children in 2 Head Start classrooms participated in the study. The experimental classroom received the Talking and Learning for Kindergarten program (Edwards, Rosin, Gross, & Chen, 2013), which used contrastive analysis to highlight morphological, phonological, and pragmatic differences between MAE and AAE. The control classroom received the Kindness Curriculum (Flook, Goldberg, Pinger, & Davidson, 2014), which was designed to promote mindfulness and emotional self-regulation. The amount of instruction was the same across the 2 programs. Both classrooms participated in pre- and posttest assessments.
Results Children in the experimental classroom, but not the control classroom, showed significant improvement in 3 norm-referenced measures of phonological awareness and in an experimental measure that evaluated comprehension of words that are ambiguous in AAE, but unambiguous in MAE, because of morphological and phonological differences between the 2 dialects.
Conclusion Although more research needs to be done on the efficacy of the Talking and Learning for Kindergarten program, these results suggest that it is possible to enhance AAE-speaking children's awareness of MAE prior to kindergarten entry.

Funding

This work was supported by a Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Seed grant, awarded to Mark S. Seidenberg; National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 02932 and National Science Foundation Grant BCS-0729140, awarded to Jan Edwards; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant P30 HD03352, awarded to the Waisman Center, and by a Friends of the Waisman Center grant to Jan R. Edwards. We are grateful to all of the children who participated in this study and to their families, and we thank teachers and staff of the Dane County Parent Council as well. We also thank Ruby Braxton, Alia Dayne, Megan Gross, Ali Holt, Doris Leeper, Brittany Manning, Maryellen MacDonald, Monique Mills, Elisabeth Piper, Mark Seidenberg, and Alissa Schneeberg for their contributions to many aspects of this research program.

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