What is African-American English (AAE)?

During the first module of this course, participants will learn about the language variety known as African-American English (AAE) and consider related issues, including so-called “Standard” English, other varieties (or dialects) of American English, and who uses AAE.

Module 1 Summary (Slides)

  • The Module 1 summary includes concise information that highlights key points and will guide participants through the module. The summary clearly indicates how much time will be spent on each component and activity.

This module’s estimated workload: 6 to 8 hours

Module 1 Learning Objectives

After completing this module, participants will:

  1. Be able to define African-American English (AAE)
  2. Know the names that have been used to describe this variety of English and why naming and framing are important
  3. Understand the social construct of “Standard” English and problems related to that construct
  4. Learn about competing theories to account for the origin of AAE
  5. Become familiar with other varieties of American English
  6. Know who speaks/uses AAE and where it is spoken/used
  7. Be able to explain why it is important for ESL instructors to know about AAE

Essential Questions Addressed in Module 1

  • What is African-American English (AAE)?
  • What names have been used to describe AAE and why do names matter?
  • What is “Standard” English?
  • Where did AAE come from?
  • Why is it important for ESL instructors to know about AAE?

Resources for Module 1

Module 1 Activities

Module 1 Lesson Plan (150 minute presentation and discussion)

1. Introduction (10 minutes)
2. African-American English (AAE) as a concept and language variety (10 minutes)
3. Names that have been used to describe AAE and why names matter (20 minutes)
4. Activity 1.1: Standard American English (25 minutes)
5. Activity 1.2: What is AAE and Who Speaks It? (20 minutes)
6. Theories on the origin and history of AAE (15 minutes)
7. Activity 1.3: How did AAE Develop? (20 minutes)
8. Why is it important for ESL instructors to know about AAE? (20 minutes)
9. Wrap-up, independent research project and study group assignments, and exit ticket (10 minutes)