ELL Teaching Tip of the Week: Teach Dialectal Words
On the playground today, one of my students was pushing the plastic shopping cart around telling the other students to “Move, move, the trolley’s coming through!” Another student, who is just learning English, quickly responded with “It’s not a trolley, it’s a cart!” This quickly proceeded into an argument which I got to break up. It was a great teaching moment though, as we got to discuss how different regions had different words for the same item. This got me thinking about how we teach homonyms regularly, but rarely talk about how regional dialects can also affect language. So my ELL Tip for this week is to help your students explore dialectal differences in language.
My hypothesis is that the main reason most teachers don’t teach dialectal differences is that many of us, as adults, are not aware of the differences unless they have lived in or been exposed to different dialects of English. So, here are some websites to help you familiarize yourself with some dialects of English:
Choose a few key regional vocabulary differences and talk about these differences with your students. If you start by introducing your students to just a few differences, it will open their mind to the idea of one item having many words to describe it. Then, as words come up in books or movies, you can come back to this point regularly. It also helps to read books with your class where regional dialects come up. (This is a great time to talk about author’s voice too.)
I personally speak with a Northern US regional dialect, what dialect of English do you speak with?
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