No AccessAmerican Journal of Speech-Language PathologyResearch Article23 Sep 2021

Perceptions of African American English by Students in Speech-Language Pathology Programs

    Purpose

    Despite the increased awareness that all dialects are valid linguistic forms, perceptions of African American English (AAE) use are often negative in the general population. Students training for careers as speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are required to have coursework relating to cultural and linguistic diversity. However, little is known about the perceptions of AAE among students in SLP programs.

    Method

    Seventy-three students from 46 randomly selected university programs in the United States completed an online survey including explicit statements regarding the validity of AAE and a matched-guide task assessing participants' implicit perceptions of AAE. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four audio pairings that differed in terms of the dialect spoken and the formality of the conversational context. Participants rated the speaker on 11 attributes (e.g., literate/illiterate, rich/poor) using the Revised Speech Dialect Attitudinal Scale.

    Results

    Participants indicated positive opinions of statements on the validity of AAE. However, across three categories of personal attributes—sociointellectual, aesthetic, and dynamism—participants who heard the Mainstream American English recordings rated the speaker differently than recordings including AAE.

    Conclusions

    Students in SLP programs express positive opinions regarding AAE, and yet, they rate speakers who speak AAE lower in personal attributes. The results highlight the importance of expanding training for future SLPs to include not only explicit statements about the value of AAE but also activities addressing implicit perceptions of dialect use. We provide a brief discussion of how the current data can be implemented for such an activity. Lesson plans and materials are provided as supplemental materials.

    Supplemental Material

    https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.15241638

    References

    Additional Resources