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Language Diversity in the Classroom

Language Diversity in the Classroom

From Intention to Practice

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Edited by Geneva Smitherman and Victor Villanueva. Foreword by Suresh Canagarajah


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
182 pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Studies in Writing and Rhetoric


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About the Book

It’s no secret that, in most American classrooms, students are expected to master standardized American English and the conventions of Edited American English if they wish to succeed. Language Diversity in the Classroom: From Intention to Practice works to realign these conceptions through a series of provocative yet evenhanded essays that explore the ways we have enacted and continue to enact our beliefs in the integrity of the many languages and Englishes that arise both in the classroom and in professional communities.

Edited by Geneva Smitherman and Victor Villanueva, the collection was motivated by a survey project on language awareness commissioned by the National Council of Teachers of English and the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

All actively involved in supporting diversity in education, the contributors address the major issues inherent in linguistically diverse classrooms: language and racism, language and nationalism, and the challenges in teaching writing while respecting and celebrating students’ own languages. Offering historical and pedagogical perspectives on language awareness and language diversity, the essays reveal the nationalism implicit in the concept of a “standard English,” advocate alternative training and teaching practices for instructors at all levels, and promote the respect and importance of the country’s diverse dialects, languages, and literatures.

Contributors include Geneva Smitherman, Victor Villanueva, Elaine Richardson, Victoria Cliett, Arnetha F. Ball, Rashidah Jammi` Muhammad, Kim Brian Lovejoy, Gail Y. Okawa, Jan Swearingen, and Dave Pruett.

The volume also includes a foreword by Suresh Canagarajah and a substantial bibliography of resources about bilingualism and language diversity.


Geneva Smitherman is University Distinguished Professor and director of the African American Language and Literacy Program at Michigan State University. She is the author of six books, including Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black America, and the editor or coeditor of eight other books on African American studies and education.

Victor Villanueva, a professor and chair of the English department at Washington State University, is the winner of two national awards on research and scholarship for his book Bookstraps: From an American Academic of Color. He is a former chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).


“As a teacher in an urban community college, I teach the many students of color who found the first twelve years of schooling painful at worst and irrelevant at best. As a result, the findings of this book strike me as centrally important to our profession.”—Smokey Wilson, Laney College, Oakland, California