Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Although language variation is widespread and natural, it is subject to judgement. Where a standard language has developed, other varieties tend to be judged against its ‘standard’. While a number of overseas studies have found that this type of linguistic bias occurs in education and negatively impacts on dialect speakers, there has been little research in Australia. This study investigates how teachers judge the speech of school-aged students and what influences that judgement. Twelve teachers met in four school-based groups to rank tape-recorded samples of speech from students who were not known to them. They determined the criteria to be used in the ranking process which was tape-recorded, transcribed and analysed. The results suggest that teachers’ perceptions of speech were most strongly influenced by the students’ use of non-standard varieties of English. This is of particular concern where the use of nonstandard varieties is also associated with lower ability as seemed to be the case in the present research. These findings have implications for education, particularly given the emphasis on oral language competence in recent curriculum documents and the increasing reliance on teacher judgements of students’ learning outcomes.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Baker, S. J.
    (1966) The Australian Language. (Rev. ed.). Sydney: Currawong Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Barbour, S.
    (1987) Dialects and the teaching of a standard language, South West German work. Language in Society, 16, 227–244. doi: 10.1017/S0047404500012276
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500012276 [Google Scholar]
  3. Barnes, D.
    (1976) From communication to curriculum. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bernard, J. R. L.
    (1967) Some measurements of some sounds of Australian English. Unpublished PhD, Sydney University, Sydney.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bex, T. , & R. J. Watts
    (1999) Introduction. In T. Bex & R. J. Watts (Eds.), Standard English: The widening debate. Routledge: London. doi: 10.4324/9780203263013
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203263013 [Google Scholar]
  6. Biber, D.
    (1988) Variation across speech and writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511621024
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511621024 [Google Scholar]
  7. Bryant, P.
    (1997) A dialect survey of the lexicon of Australian English. English World-Wide, 18(2), 211–41. doi: 10.1075/eww.18.2.04bry
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.18.2.04bry [Google Scholar]
  8. Cambourne, B.
    (1990) Beyond the deficit theory: A 1990’s perspective on literacy failure. Australian Journal of Reading, 13 (4), 289–299.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Cameron, D.
    (1995) Verbal hygiene. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Campbell, E. D.
    (1994) Empowerment through bidialectalism: Encouraging Standard English in a Black English environment. Unpublished Masters Degree (Science), Nova University.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Carter, R.
    (1995) Keywords in language and literacy. London: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780203293652
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203293652 [Google Scholar]
  12. Chafe, W. L.
    (1985) Linguistic differences produced by differences between speaking and writing. In D. R. Olson , N. Torrance & A. Hildyard (Eds.) Literacy, language, and learning: The nature and consequences of reading and writing (pp.105–123). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Cheshire, J. , V. Edwards , H. Munstermann & B. Weltens
    (1989) Dialect and education in Europe: A general perspective. In J. Cheshire , V. Edwards , H. Munstermann , & B. Weltens (Eds.) Dialect and education: Some European perspectives (pp.1–10). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Cheshire, J. , V. Edwards & P. Whittle
    (1993) Non-standard English and dialect levelling. In J. Milroy & L. Milroy (Eds.) Real English: the grammar of English dialects in the British Isles (pp.53–96). London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Cheshire, J. , J. Milroy
    (1993) Syntactic variation in non-standard dialects: background issues. In J. Milroy & L. Milroy (Eds.) Real English: The grammar of English dialects in the British Isles (pp.3–33). London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Clyne, M. , Eisikovits, E. , & Tollfree, L.
    (2001) Ethnic Varieties of Australian English. In Blair, D. , & P. Collins , (Eds.) English in Australia, (pp.223–238). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/veaw.g26.21cly
    https://doi.org/10.1075/veaw.g26.21cly [Google Scholar]
  17. Collins, P.
    (1989) Divided and debatable usage in Australian English. In P. Collins & D. Blair (Eds.), Australian English: The language of a new society (pp.138–149). St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Corson, D.
    (1999) Language policy in schools: A resource for teachers and administrators. Mahwah, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Curriculum Council
    Curriculum Council (1998) Curriculum Framework. Perth, Curriculum Council.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Eagleson, R.
    (1989) Popular and professional attitudes to prestige dialects. In P. Collins & D. Blair (Eds.) Australian English: The language of a new society (pp.151–157). St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Edwards, J. & H. Giles
    (1984) Applications of the social psychology of language: sociolinguistics and education. In P. Trudgill (Ed.) Applied Sociolinguistics (pp.119–158). London: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Eltis, K.
    (1978) The scription of attributes to pupils by teachers and student teachers with particular reference to the influence of voice in this process. Unpublished PhD, Macquarie University, Sydney.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Gee, J.
    (1990) Social linguistics and literacies: Ideology in discourses. Basingstoke, Hampshire: The Falmer Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Georgakopoulou, A. & D. Goutsos
    (1997) Discourse analysis: An introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Giles, H. & N. Coupland
    (1991) Language contexts and consequencesBuckingham: Open Univeristy Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Gordon, J. C. B.
    (1981) Verbal deficit: A critique. London: Croom Helm.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Gunn, J. S.
    (1970) Twentieth century Australian idiom. In W.S. Ramson (Ed.) English transported: Essays on Australian English (pp.49–82). Canberra: Australian University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Hagen, A. M.
    (1989) Dialect, Frisian and education in the Netherlands. In J. Cheshire , V. Edwards , H. Munstermann , & B. Weltens (Eds.) Dialect and education: Some European perspectives (pp.48–61). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Halliday, M. A. K.
    (1985) Spoken and written language. Melbourne: Deakin University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Hodge, R. & G. Kress
    (1993) Language as ideology. (2nd ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Hollingworth, B.
    (1989) Education and the vernacular. In J. Cheshire , V. Edwards , H. Munstermann , & B. Weltens (Eds.) Dialect and Education: Some European Perspectives (pp.293–303). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Horvath, B. M.
    (1985) Variation in Australian English: The sociolects of Sydney. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Horvath, B. & Horvath, R. J.
    (2001) Short Ain Australian English: a geolinguistic study. In Blair, D. , & P. Collins , (Eds.) English in Australia, (pp.341–355). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/veaw.g26.30hor
    https://doi.org/10.1075/veaw.g26.30hor [Google Scholar]
  34. Jernudd, B. H.
    (1969) A listener experiment: Variants of Australian English. Kivung, 2, 19–29.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Joseph, J. E.
    (1987) Eloquence and power: The rise of language standards and standard languages. London: Frances Pinter.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Kiesling, S.
    (2001) Australian English and recent migrant groups. In Blair, D. , & P. Collins , (Eds.) English in Australia, (pp.239–257). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/veaw.g26.22kie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/veaw.g26.22kie [Google Scholar]
  37. Kress, G.
    (1979) The social values of speech and writing. In R. Fowler , B. Hodge , G. Kress & T. Trew (Eds.), Language and Control (pp.46–62). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Lakoff, R. T.
    (1982) Some of my favourite writers are literate: The mingling of oral and literate strategies in written communication. In D. Tannen (Ed.) Spoken and Written Language: Exploring orality and literacy (pp.239–260). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Lippi-Green, R.
    (1997) English with an accent. Language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Milroy, J. , L. Milroy
    (1991) Authority in language: investigating language prescription and standardisation. (2nd ed.) London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Mitchell, A. G.
    (1951) Australian English. Australian Quarterly, 23, 9–17. doi: 10.2307/20633321
    https://doi.org/10.2307/20633321 [Google Scholar]
  42. (1958) Spoken English. London: Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Mitchell, A. G. , & A. Delbridge
    (1965) The speech of Australian adolescents. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Noguchi, R. R.
    (1991) Grammar and the teaching of writing. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. O’Donnell, W. R. , & L. Todd
    (1991) Variety in contemporary English. (2nd ed.) London: Allen & Unwin.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Oliver, R. , G. McKay & J. Rochecouste
    (1999) Spoken English varieties of Western Australian primary school children: a preliminary study. Paper presented atthe Applied Linguistic Association of Australia Conference, September.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Oliver, R. , McKay, G. , & J. Rochecouste
    , (Forthcoming) Lexical Variation among Western Australian Primary School Children, Australian Journal of Linguistics.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Perera, K.
    (1993) Standard English in Attainment Target 1: Speaking and Listening. Language Matters, 3, 1–15.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Pilch, H.
    (1976) Empirical linguistics. Munchen: Francke Verlag.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Pittman, J.
    (1987) Listener’s evaluations of voice quality in Australian English speakers. Language and Speech, 30 (2), 99–113.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Ramson, W. S.
    (1972) Distinctive features of Australian English. In G. W. Turner (Ed.) Good Australian English and Good New Zealand English (pp.33–45). Sydney: Reed Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Reeve, J. L.
    (1982) Attitudes to Australian English revealed in the ABC Weekly: Occasional papers of the Speech and Research Centre. Paper presented atthe 52nd ANZAAS Conference.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Rickford, J. R.
    (1999) African American Vernacular English. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Sato, C.
    (1989) A nonstandard approach to standard English. TESOL Quarterly, 23, (2) 259–282. doi: 10.2307/3587336
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3587336 [Google Scholar]
  55. Seggie, I. , C. Fulmizi & J. Stewart
    (1982) Evaluations of personality traits and employment suitability in various Australian accents. Australian Journal of Psychology, 34, 345–357. doi: 10.1080/00049538208254729
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00049538208254729 [Google Scholar]
  56. Sharwood, J. A.
    (1982) Vocabulary of the Australian dried vine fruits industry. University of Sydney Occasional Papers, 20, 11–63.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Skutnabb-Kangas, T.
    (1988) Multilingualism and the education of minority children. In T. Skutnabb-Kangas & J. Cummins (Eds.) Minority education: from shame to struggle (pp.9–43). Multilingual Matters, Clevedon.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Sledd, J.
    (1983) In defence of student rights. College English, November, 667–675. doi: 10.2307/377176
    https://doi.org/10.2307/377176 [Google Scholar]
  59. Stubbs, M.
    (1976) Language, schools and classrooms. London: Methuen.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. (1980) Language and literacy: the sociolinguistics of reading and writing. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. (1986) Educational linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Sturm, J.
    (1989) Language variation and mother tongue education in the Netherlands: Reflections on some old disputes about language and education. In J. Cheshire , V. Edwards , H. Münstermann , & B. Weltens (Eds.) Dialect and education: Some European perspectives. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Tannen, D.
    (1980) Spoken and written language and the oral/literate continuum. Paper presented atthe Proceedings of the sixth annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, University of California, Berkeley.
    [Google Scholar]
  64. (1982) Oral and literate strategies in spoken and written narratives. Language, 58, 1–21. doi: 10.2307/413530
    https://doi.org/10.2307/413530 [Google Scholar]
  65. Trudgill, P.
    (1983) On dialect: Social and geographical perspectives. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Trudgill, P. & H. Giles
    (1976) Sociolinguistics and language value judgements: Correctness, adequacy and aesthetics. Trier: Linguistics Agency of the University of Trier.
    [Google Scholar]
  67. Turner, G. W.
    (1966) The English language in Australia and New Zealand. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  68. van Marie, J.
    (1997) Dialect versus standard language: nature versus culture. In J. Cheshire & D. Stein (Eds.) Taming the vernacular: From dialect to written standard language (pp.13–34). Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error