Introduction: the purposes of the study
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My concern is with English language in English classrooms, and my experience and observation have been in urban classrooms. I could not avoid, therefore, even if I wished to, a subsidiary topic. For a minority of children in the population at large, but a majority in some schools, and in the experience of some teachers, this significant early development is complicated by the fact that it coincides with the need to learn a new language. These are children from homes in which English is the language of broadcast sound, but almost never of talk addressed to the child or in which he takes part. Starting school must seem to these children an unusually stressful experience in which apparently wellintentioned adults neither understand what they say nor speak intelligibly to them. Nobody claims that this state of affairs is anything but the unintended effect of economic pressures and population shifts. What actually happens in schools where monolingual teachers have to accept responsibility for children in the earliest stages of becoming bilingual, what options are actually available within the constraints that operate, and what are the observable effects of operating these choices, seem then to be topics of some importance, deserving examination within a sociolinguistic frame of reference.