Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The purpose of this blog is to summarize articles on teaching English/language arts, from kindergarten through college, published in English education journals from the past.

Topic: Dialects

Title: “A Learning Activity Package: Discovering Dialects.” Charles R. Duke. English Journal (March 1973), 432-445. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Technique: Different people use different words for common objects in different sections of the country. Using the following list of choices, have students ask relatives, friends and classmates which word they use to describe the object.

a. soda, soda pop, soft drink, tonic
b. living room, sitting room, parlor, front room, or _________
c. andirons, dogs, fire dogs, dog irons
d. mantel, mantel piece, mantel shelf, fire board
e. roller shades, curtains, blinds, window shades
f. clothes closet, closet, cupboard, clothes press
g. storeroom, lumber room, junk room, catch-all
h. porch, stoop, veranda
i. gutter (of roof), eaves, eaves trough, water trough
j. pail, bucket
k. frying pan, skillet, spider
l. faucet, spigot, tap
m. paper bag, bag, sack, poke
n. lift, elevator

Have the person who answered the survey, identify all the places they have lived—city, state—and draw a conclusion about which places in the country use which words to describe each object.

Comment: This activity was a small part of a larger “Learning Activities Packet” dealing with many characteristics of dialect. You will need to retrieve the entire article to find out how you could put together a complete unit on American dialects. RayS.

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