The Skin That We Speak: Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom
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The Skin That We Speak: Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  349 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Now in paperback, The Skin That We Speak takes the discussion of language in the classroom beyond the highly charged war of idioms and presents today’s teachers with a thoughtful exploration of the varieties of English that we speak, in what Black Issues Book Review calls “an essential text.”

Edited by bestselling author Lisa Delpit and education professor Joanne Kilgour Do...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by New Press, The (first published February 1st 2001)
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Paul de Barros
Jul 08, 2008 Paul de Barros rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in linguistics or education
I cannot begin to laud this book enough. It was fantastic. It is a collection of essays about the stereotypes and biases associated with various dialects of English. It very strongly makes the case that Standard American English is merely one of a multiplicity of valid dialects. The standard dialect is no more correct, just more common and more respected. It goes on to suggest that the best way to get students to learn Standard American English is to begin by respecting their existing speech pat...more
Lisa Brown
it's not often that i say "this book changed my life," but this one did - insofar as it changed the way i think about the various forms of english spoken on either side of the pond, which is more than a mildly important part of my world. it formalized and validated some things i had sort of intuited about certain dialects and speech patterns, and it shed valuable light onto the crucial role language plays in the learning process, regardless of subject matter. some of the essays are a little date...more
Harley
the essays in this collection are quite diverse, hence the name of the book! I was able to think deeply about how I will tackle diversity in my own classroom, even in English... the reality is that teachers are not quite up to speed on what needs to be considered when thinking about culture and about teaching away the concept of racism, linguisim, and classism.... but this book is a start.
Tracy Nomensen
A must read for every educator, every human.
Erin Cardis
A book that every future teacher should read.
Kb
This is yet another book that I picked up after reflecting on how who I am affects how my words are perceived, what Herb Kohl, in Ch. 9, refers to as "attunement." Of course, there is no changing my background and, as a result, who I am. As Gloria Ladson-Billings lays out in "Dreamkeepers," it is on me to become hyper-aware of the respective realities of my students, which affect how knowledge is constructed. In this book, Lisa Delpit presents this issue through the specific lens of language. Th...more
Alexis
“If it means forgetting that the language of everyone else around you bears witness to two hundred years of cross-pollination, then so be it” (7)

“We were given all the latitude in the world to suspend our reality as Trinidadians, the proud survivors of three hundred year of British, French, and Spanish domination, and to perfect the one language system that we should have ripped from our throats at the earliest age possible. Instead, we made our throats moist and forced our tones up an octave so...more
Pashew Majeed
The influences language and color have on our life and the changes it makes is just unbelievable. Most of us has been pre-judged by the way we look and speak on daily basis. By the look I do not solely mean color but the appearance of you face as well. I have enough living personal examples in the regard of language influences. Those cultural misinterpretations which led and leads to misunderstanding and the aftermath is a cultural clash. Educationally speaking, the aftermath will be a culturall...more
Gretchen
The Skin that We Speak is a collection of essays by scholars about the struggle of language and culture in the classroom. They mainly address the issue of "Ebonics" and why it is looked down on as an "inferior" language. They talk about what we can do to change this negative outlook and why it's important.

This book's pretty boring. I had to read it for my Literacy/Language/Learning Theory class next semester. A lot of it is common sense or personal examples, which are kind of boring. They point...more
Allegra
I had already taken college courses about the validity of African American Vernacular English as a systematic and rule-governed language, but I thought the essays included in this book really went deeper into how perceptions of speakers of non-Standard English are formed and reinforced, how to change how students think of each other and themselves in order to help everyone succeed in school, and how to address the preconceptions of some teachers regarding the languages used by their students in...more
Danielle Krause
A collection of powerful essays written to make the reader a bit uncomfortable. I think every future educator (and parent) should read this text. The authors have incredible insight into the dynamics of language, race, and power and their relationship to student identity and teacher strategies. There is some wonderful advice, and the essays complement each other well. An essential read for any future teacher and anyone interested in the dynamics of language in schools today.
Michael
This book looks at the problem we have of looking at certain ways of speaking as "lesser" than Standard English. These essays illustrate the problem and show some possibilities for addressing cultural differences within the classroom. I found this quite eye-opening, as I haven't read much about the topic before, and my own speech has never been challenged by a teacher. I feel quite fortunate in this.
Molly
This book shed valuable light onto the crucial role language plays in the learning process, regardless of subject matter. It helped me reflect on how Standard American English is really only one of a myriad of English dialects. I never realized before how some students are at a disadvantage when their dialect of English in invalidated. I found some of the works a bit dated, but it was interesting overall.
Lauren
Dowdy puts together a great collection of essays about language and how our speech informs our world-view, self-esteem and educational options. While centered around the debate over Ebonics, the book also touches on everything from various British dialects to Appalachian English. A must-read for educators; an unusual but satisfying read for those generally interested in social justice.
Susanna
I would emphatically recommend this book to anyone who is attempting to teach standard English to non-standard English speakers...but I think that it is worth a read even if you are not a teacher. Because we live in a society with both standard and non-standard English speakers, we could all benefit by considering the ideas presented in this book.
Laurel Kane
The essays in this book are well written, but didn't feel like anything new to me. I liked the the Kohl one the best - "Topsy Turvies: Teacher Talk and Student Talk" because he addresses the need for authenticity in the classroom, particularly that it's not enough to just "play at" being a teacher, you need to be real.
Bernadette
This is a collection of essays about dialects and languages and how the prejudices that may come along with them. This book should be a must read for any educator because it sheds some light on how language differences in the classroom may lead to unconscious judgements on the teacher's part.
Cyndi Lu
the essays in this book demonstrate the intertwined nature of culture and language. for white instructors, this book explains the struggles and frustrations minorities feel when their on mother tongue is devalued while also explaining the complexities of mother tongue. loved this book.
Mrs. Schonour
I had to read this for a grad class and didn't really enjoy it. The book is a compilation of many different authors' experiences with language and race. It was somewhat useful for this white girl, but I didn't find anything especially eye opening or completely new.
Ginny
This is a wonderful book for any urban educator to read, regardless of their content area. It is especially poignant for language arts teachers, but anyone could benefit from it. One of the best books I have ever purchased for a course, hands down.
Jill Jepson
An excellent introduction to important issues about culture, ethnicity, and race with a focus on how language functions in the classroom. I'm teach a university course titled Language as Power, and have used this book as one of my texts for years.
Kathy
Great read for educators. This book is resourceful and informative for any individual in the field of educations, particularly, if teaching in the inner city public school sector.
Vanessa
Great set of essays on language and power; linguistic racism and classism. Count me in as an avid Lisa Delpit fan. I use this book in my soc of ed courses.
Kristin
A collection of essays by teachers who give an in-depth look at how language is intricately linked to identity, culture, and to how people perceive each other.
apwebb83
These essays are valuable for anyone who is striving to recognize and replace prejudice where it exists, with sensitivity and intelligence.
Julie
Essential exploration of dialect. Examines ideas about "wrongness" and "inferiority" and how those plague people's lives.
Andrew
I read this book for a class and really enjoyed the essays about the language of African Americans and modern racism.
Dave
Aug 13, 2007 Dave rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers
Observations of how little things in the classroom mean a lot!
Christina
important reading.
language, literacy, culture, race.
Scott
Lisa Delpit's essay is the highlight of this book.
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Book Presentation 1 8 Mar 12, 2009 10:05AM  
  • Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom
  • The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future
  • We Can't Teach What We Don't Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools
  • The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children
  • Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity
  • Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching about Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word
  • The Trouble with Black Boys: And Other Reflections on Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education
  • 'I Won't Learn from You': And Other Thoughts on Creative Maladjustment
  • Can We Talk about Race?: And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation
  • White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism
  • The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America
  • Choice Words
  • Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from High School Students
  • Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students
  • Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
  • Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States
  • The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege
  • American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass
Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom "Multiplication Is for White People": Raising Expectations for Other People's Children Quality Education as a Constitutional Right: Creating a Grassroots Movement to Transform Public Schools Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from High School Students The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African-American Children

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