Discuss the arguments for and against teaching Standard English in schools.
Throughout the years there has been great debate over the teaching of English in schools. One particular aspect of this is the argument over whether or to what extent Standard English should be used in the education of children. In this essay I plan to examine these arguments, firstly considering the problem of defining Standard English, then evaluating the views for and against teaching this form of English in schools. I will then look at the concept of teaching Standard English to those who are leaning English as a second or foreign language, and consider any different or similar debates for this situation. .
One major question which needs to be addressed when considering Standard English is how is the term actually defined? There seems to be a great deal of contention over this issue and understandably so. There is little debate over written English, because there are fairly strict rules set out about the use of language, from dictionaries and other texts. However where greatest debate emerges is in the issue of spoken Standard English. The linguist Katharine Perera believes that Standard English is concerned with the "structure of the language, i.e. its grammar and vocabulary" (Learning English: development and diversity pp. 208-209) but that accent is not important. However spoken language differs so greatly, even among the most educated speakers, and while a certain degree of care needs to be exercised when writing, this is less often the case with speech. It seems problematic to attempt to educate children in a form of spoken language for which there are no exact rules, and Perera herself states that that "the National Curriculum requires that pupils are assessed on their ability to speak it, so it is essential to have some agreement about what it is" (p.209) Another problem in the definition of Standard English is that it differs throughout the world.