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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Language, Learning, and Literacy: Understanding the Social Linguistic Context of African-American Students as a Value in Library Services to Diverse Children in the United States


This paper considers the impact of language on literacy and learning within the contexts of linguistic theory, language acquisition theory, and social cognition as having a causal relationship with low achievement in reading, writing, and speaking Standard American English.  In expanding the concept of literacy, this paper is premised on the notion that African-Americans, who exhibit difficulty learning to read, write, and speak Standard American English, qualify as English Language Learners in the United States. As such, these individuals are entitled to the same considerations as other English Language Learners. Drawing on the 1996 Oakland Resolution on Ebonics and tracing the events that followed its passing, this research aims to provide librarians and library and information science (LIS) educators a contextual framework of African-American students that will be useful in building the unique skills, knowledge, and abilities that today’s librarians need – if they are to effectively provide the cutting-edge library services this country’s growing number of distinctly urban environments require.

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