chapter  3
30 Pages

Different Cultural Discourse Norms

This chapter examines language injustices that can affect culturally different students, even those who speak English proficiently. Language theorists have long argued that many of the difficulties for culturally different children in mainstream schools can be attributed to sociolinguistic interference (Hymes, 1971). As individuals, we develop ‘co-occurrence expectations’ and ‘contextualization expectations’ through our interactions with others. These expectations about context clues, the structuring of attention, the regulation of talk or turn-taking, are often culturally specific. When we have our expectations about these things upset by subtle variations in the signs of culturally different others, then our ability and willingness to participate in that context is often reduced (Gumperz, 1977). While there are other, more obvious difficulties that arise for children, especially if they use a different language variety, these other difficulties are made worse, because teachers can easily overlook the more subtle differences in norms that children bring to school and the impact these differences in linguistic capital can have on school learning.