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Sociolinguistic Variation and Acquisition in Two-Way Language Immersion

Sociolinguistic Variation and Acquisition in Two-Way Language Immersion

Rebecca Lurie Starr


Additional Information


This book investigates the acquisition of sociolinguistic knowledge in the early elementary school years of a Mandarin-English two-way immersion program in the United States. Using ethnographic observation and quantitative analysis of data, the author explores how input from teachers and classmates shapes students’ language acquisition. The book considers the different sociolinguistic messages conveyed by teachers in their patterns of language use and the variety of dialects negotiated and represented. Using analysis of teacher speech, corrective feedback and student language use, the author brings together three analyses to form a more complete picture of how children respond to sociolinguistic variation within a two-way immersion program.

This book provides an exciting addition to research on the crucial question of when and how children acquire sociolinguistic norms in the early stages of language use. Starr’s investigation focusses on both teacher and student talk in a two-way language immersion class, providing a multi-pronged approach to the crucial question of how teacher input may effect student output in negotiating the complexities of sociolinguistic variation. This rigorous yet accessible book will be invaluable for sociolinguists, acquisitionists and educators, and is set to be a key text for students working in these areas.

Rebecca Lurie Starr is an Assistant Professor of English Language at the National University of Singapore. She researches sociolinguistic variation in English, Mandarin and other languages, focusing on children’s acquisition of sociolinguistic knowledge in schools and multilingual settings.

The ongoing polemic nature of the instruction or impermissibility of sociolinguist
variation in the classroom reinforces the book’s importance. The increased awareness of nonstandard varieties is an important step towards the acceptance of variation and the elimination of the stigma accompanying such varieties. Starr’s work will be of interest to all who work with speakers of various dialects of any language, including variationists, sociolinguists, and language teachers.

Farrah Neumann, University of Pittsburgh, USA

Focusing on a Mandarin-English two-way immersion school, Starr meticulously analyzes in this book the issue of accents of both languages. She innovatively combines applied linguistic and sociolinguistic research and brings our attention to sociolinguistic variations in bilingual classrooms. Scholars in both sociolinguistics and second language acquisition should read this book – as well as teachers and parents who work with bilingual children!

Written in an articulate and engaging manner, Rebecca Starr’s innovative study shows how first graders in a Mandarin-English two-way language immersion program negotiate between languages and dialects in interesting and complex ways. Rich in qualitative and quantitative analyses of sociolinguistic variation in the use of language patterns, the book’s fascinating findings contribute significantly to our understanding of childhood bilingualism in general and heritage Chinese development in particular.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Contents v
1 Introduction 1
2 Standard Mandarin and Sociolinguistic Variation 12
3 Teacher Language Use 21
4 Corrections and Other Metalinguistic Discourse 54
5 Student Language Use 118
6 Implications and Future Directions 151
References 160
Index 166