Lunchtime Colloquium with Patricia Hart Blundon on Wednesday 23 October

We are pleased to announce that Patricia Hart Blundon will be giving a talk at the School on Wednesday 23 October as part of the School’s 50th anniversary colloquium series.

Patricia Hart Blundon is a Speech-Language Pathologist who recently defended her PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies (Linguistics, Education, and Speech-Language Pathology) at the University of Victoria. Her research focuses on First Nations English varieties in educational settings. She is also a consultant in schools in northern British Columbia, where the majority of children are of First Nations ancestry.

WHEN: Wednesday 23 October, 12:30- 1:20 PM

WHERE: Friedman Room 355

TITLE: Grammatical Features of First Nations School-aged Children: Valuing Linguistic Diversity

ABSTRACT: Students who speak local varieties (i.e., dialects) of English that differ from the standard promoted in school are at a disadvantage. Differences in language content, form, and use can negatively affect literacy development, and achievement in mathematics. In Canada, many First Nations students may speak a local English variety. Lack of documentation of their variety can lead to unnecessary pathologization and inappropriate pedagogical strategies. However, research concerning Indigenous Englishes in Canada is scant. To address the crucial necessity of learning more about First Nations children’s Englishes, I analyzed 1) oral narrative language samples of Kindergarteners and 2) oral and written narrative language samples of students in Kindergarten to Grade 5, over a three-year period. My results suggest the presence of at least 23 grammatical features, many of which may have been influenced by the structure of the community’s ancestral language. At school entry, all children used features at high rates. As children progressed through the grades, their use of features appeared to follow a curvilinear trajectory, declining in the early grades of school, reaching their lowest levels in Grades 3 and 4, and then gradually rising again as children approached Middle School. Use of a shorter sentence length, with less subordination and embedding, also appears to be a feature of this variety. I provide suggestions for improved assessment and teaching, as well as recommendations for future research. I hope that this study will contribute to the preservation and celebration of the unique ways of speaking English that have evolved in northern communities.

We look forward to seeing you there!