I met with my tutee, Anne, for our second session and this time, her professor actually gave her a handout with the prompt on it! This paper isn’t due until sometime in October so we just spent some times going over what the prompt is talking about and what she should look for in her readings.
To my surprise, her essay prompt is directly related to one of the classes I’m taking, English 425 or “Introduction to Sociolinguistics”. One of the topics we explore in the field of sociolinguistics is the controversy between “standard English” and “African American vernacular”. While in society, standard English holds a higher social status and more power than African American vernacular, some linguists argue that they are equally structured and complex in terms of morphology, grammar, and function. In other words, African American vernacular is no less of a legitimate language than standard English.
Coincidentally, my tutee’s essay prompt is also on this topic. Her task is to decide whether standard English is a form of oppression or empowerment based on the readings she’s been assigned to read in class. I’m particularly excited to see what Anne has to say because she comes from an immigrant family where acquiring standard English has probably been a difficult but valuable task.