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date: 22 October 2017

Non-Standardized Englishes

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Globally, English literacy has sought to address the needs of all learners by focusing on English varieties in isolation. This method of addressing learners’ English literacy needs was based on the assumption that focusing on languages and linguistic varieties in isolation would allow students to be more adept with standardized English literacies. In turn, this assumption arose from the traditional conception of Englishes as geographically bound and nation-based, and from standard language ideologies that privileged the use of standardized versions of English over others. In the 21st century, these conceptions can no longer hold. Why? The postmodern era of globalization, transnationalism, and internationalization has changed the way in which Englishes function across geographical regions and nations, and via technology. As a result, learners increasingly need to use literacy for communicative purposes as they effectively engage with a variety of Englishes based on a multiple contexts.

To empower learners to communicate effectively and to become literate citizens in the postmodern diaspora, English literacy can no longer continue to address the needs of all learners by focusing on English varieties in isolation, as is reflected by the literature on non-standardized Englishes in the field. If learners are provided with opportunities during literacy instruction that position them to learn the nuances of Englishes, with and from their diverse peers, they may be better able to function successfully across linguistic boundaries. To accomplish this goal, the field can create pathways that allow students to utilize, communicate with speakers of, and examine the contexts that surround the use of various Englishes in English literacy instruction.