Workshops > Workshop 3B: 3:45-5:30

Linguistics Courses for Raising Reading Levels in Low Income Schools

William Labov
University of Pennsylvania

This workshop will present designs for a linguistics service learning course which will train undergraduate tutors to raise literacy levels in elementary schools. Courses proposed will involve two or more hours per week of tutoring in a local school as a requirement for all students. The course designs will include various ways of using The Reading Road Tutorial Program, available on the Penn Reading Initiative web site:

Course designs to be considered will include:

  • Introduction to African-American and Latino English. A linguistics course focusing on those features of minority dialects that are most relevant to reading, ways of using contrastive analysis, and application to the tutoring process.
  • The Sociolinguistics of Reading. A course focusing on the community setting of AAVE and reading failure in local schools, along with methods for creating community schools and involving parents in the reading process.
  • The Linguistics of Reading. The linguistic basis for reading instruction, combinatorial rules, the role of exceptions, cognitive problems involved in one-to-many relationships and strategies to be used in the absence of rules.

Participants in the workshop will present descriptions of their own courses and discuss ways in which Reading Road materials can be integrated into them.

The workshop will also discuss the procedures and problems of establishing contact with local schools, defining the population to be tutored, setting up tutoring times and coordinating with school schedules. In addition, we will discuss the use of initial and finally diagnostic tests for evaluating effects of tutoring. The infrastructure needed to manage such a course will be considered, including the possibility of training volunteer tutors outside of the course enrollment.