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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Standard/school English as a second dialect : perspectives from four British Columbia school districts Campbell, Heather Louise


Children of First Nations, Métis and Inuit heritage who speak a dialect of English that differs from the standard language of instruction in school may encounter communication and academic challenges (Ball, 2007). “Standard English as a Second Dialect” programs (SESD) have been developed in part to respond to these challenges. Recent research by Battisti, Friesen and Krauth (2009) has shown that supplementary funding for SESD under the ESL policy framework has had positive effects on the reading scores of Aboriginal children, but the specific programs and services that are contributing to this improvement are unknown. This qualitative study investigated current practices regarding SESD assessment and implementation of SESD programs in four British Columbia school districts (both rural and urban). Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with several speech-language pathologists (SLPs), resource teachers and other educators or administrators who were involved in their district’s SESD programs. These data were interpreted using a method called constant comparative analysis to identify key themes within a qualitative research paradigm. Perspectives of the participants were that the current Ministry of Education policy and guidelines are unclear. Individual participants have interpreted the guidelines differently leading to very different SESD programs in the districts consulted for this study. Approaches to SESD service delivery mentioned by participants ranged from teaching code-switching to highlighting relationships with students, parents and elders. Participant comments revealed that they have considerable knowledge regarding the essential aspects of ESD service delivery and how the link between language, culture and identity affects their ESD programming and goals. However, there also appears to be a strong need for more research on First Nations English dialects and their impact on education and education practices.

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