Equity & Access Teacher Inquiry

Language, Identity, and Learning in Talking Appalachian


This NWP Radio conversation with Amy Clark, co-editor of Talking Appalachian: Voice, Identity & Community, begins with a personal story of how transcribing an oral history interview with her great grandmother revealed the syntax and poetry in her speech. Subsequent segments include discussions of: 1) teachers' and writers' essays in Part II of the book that incorporate implications and ideas for instruction (4:38 -19:42); and 2) Amy's teaching career trajectory that led to her bringing research about dialect to her writing project community; a discussion of contrastive analysis as a tool for helping students use their writing to understand reasons nonstandard grammar patterns exist so they can learn to make choices to switch between home/informal and school/formal languages; results and advice for researchers/study groups interested in this work (20:08 - 39:04).This resource could be useful in planning and/or leading professional development, study groups, or teacher inquiry focused on dialect and empowering student voice.

Listen to the Show

Duration: 43 minutes


Amy Clark, co-editor of Talking Appalachian:

The act of transcribing [my grandmother’s] words and the syntax of her sentences showed me the poetry of her voice, her dialect. This was the voice in the writing of Lee Smith, James Still, Harriet Arnow. Everything I’d heard on television or even among my peers about how ignorant we sounded was diminished. It was a turning point for me in realizing, to quote Linda Scott DeRosier, that I was “carrying my heritage in my mouth.” How we talk about language matters as much as how we use it.

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