Dialect Teacher Resources

Find Dialect educational ideas and activities

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Cool, man! This is rad! Sneak a peek at this resource before you outten the lights. LOL, you Dred. As an introduction to language change, class groups brainstorm IM lingo, as well as words and phrases popular today, that might seem confusing to people living over a hundred years ago. Teams then read “Bear Hunting,” written in the dialect of the Southern Appalachians, and create a list of words or phrases that are unfamiliar. The whole class then attempts to translate the document. The activity could be used to familiarize learners with how to read dialect before tackling such novels as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Students perform a scene from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In this Adventures of Tom Sawyer lesson, students read the novel and discuss use of dialect. Students discover information about Mark Twain's contributions to Missouri history, then choose a scene to perform in a Reader's Theater.
What does your dialect sound like? Examine variation in English as it relates to geographic regions with your class. They recognize some of the major differences between regional dialects and determine that everyone speaks a dialect. They trace historical events that have shaped the current major regional dialects.
Scholars read and re-write, in Standard English, a short selection from Dovey Coe and note importance of use of dialect in novel. Then they examine their own use of dialect in everyday speech, and write a narrative using both casual dialect and Standard English. By using shorter sections of text, this lesson could also work with lower grades.
This activity is intended to follow-up or reinforce concepts learned relating to the Great Depression, antebellum period, and the turn of the twentieth century. Learners conduct research and read about North Carolina during one of the mentioned periods, paying particular attention to how people spoke during those eras. They transcribe a passage using each targeted dialect.
A reading of Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County not only offers pupils an opportunity to practice their listening skills but also provides them with examples of dialectic speech. This is the gol’derndest lesson ever.
Practice listening skills while studying oral story tellers from different parts of Louisiana. Consider the regional dialects and insider language of folk groups with your class. Identify language as part of folk life and recognize that folk groups share special insider terms, phrases, and dialects unique to them.
While originally created to accompany The Cay, this poetry instructional activity could be used on it's own, especially if you are working on dialect. Class members conduct a close reading of "When Malindy Sings" by Paul Laurence Dunbar and listen to an audio recording to get a better idea of what the dialects sounds like. After determining the main idea, partners translate stanzas and summarize the poem. Once pupils are clear on the meaning, pose the provided questions and hold a discussion.
Building on the previous activity in this series of lesson seeds, this plan focuses on the use of dialect in Theodore Taylor's novel, The Cay. Class members examine specific lines of text, use their reading journals to respond to the reading, watch an excerpt of the film adaptation, and rewrite an interaction between Phillip and Timothy, changing the point of view and using dialect. While this is called a lesson seed, there is plenty of material for a full one-to-two-day lesson
Students view the film "Nell" and analyze it for presentation of language pathologies and dialects. They consider the definition of dialect, research phonetic representation of dialects and observe their own communities for speech patterns.
The dialect words for types of food from across the British Isles get pupils thinking about native dialects and how they differ from Standard English. Class members create a dialect dictionary and discuss the difference between accent and dialect. If your culinary skills are up to the challenge you might consider making some of these treats.
Cultivating an interest in native dialects and how they differ from Standard English is an excellent introduction to the study of language. This resource looks at the dialectic words of the British Isles that are used for methods of transport. Did you know that a wain is a two-wheeled cart? Right good!
What's the difference between an accent and a dialect? Examine the difference between the two with your scholars. In groups, they compile a dialect dictionary. They interview adults to gather information about accents and ethnic words. Then they explore poetry and discuss what dialects best fit a particular poem.
Discover the differences in dialect. Inquisitive minds read poems and discuss how words or phrases are different in standard English and other dialects. Using a dictionary, class members locate the definition of each word, find alternatives, and discuss dialect examples.
Students explore the power of dialect in poetry.  In this poetry instructional activity, students listen to a reading of "In-a Brixtan Markit" while viewing the poem.  Students rewrite the poem in English or using another dialect; or write another poem from someone else's point of view. 
Students explore poetry and dialect. They research Burn's Night and how people celebrate it. Students examine the Scottish dialect and its similarities to English grammar. Students write their own poetry.
Students examine Appalachian culture in the early 1900's. In this language arts lesson, students use Our Southern Highlanders by Horace Kephart to explore the Southern Appalachian dialect, linguistics, customs and traits.
Reading a dialect can be difficult; show readers that it can also reveal fascinating details! They read two extracts from Jane Gardam's The Hollow Land, which is written in a British dialect. Readers answer comprehension questions, comparing the dialect to American English, explaining difficulties they faced while reading, and defining unfamiliar words and phrases. After reading the second extract, they identify the narrator, setting, and text type. Finally, learners connect by writing a description of a place they know well.
Lines from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are used to illustrate the differences among dialect, jargon, and slang. The presentation could be used as part of the study of this American classic to illustrate Twain's ability to capture the sounds of these different speech forms. 
If a blue jay could talk, what would it say? Find out by reading Mark Twain's "Jim Baker's Blue-jay Yarn" with your class. Make sure to discuss dialect beforehand and adopt the accent while you read. Compare and contrast American English and dialect by examining quotes and filling out a Venn diagram. Once your learners have a grasp of dialect, and once you have modeled how to write in dialect, have pairs compose and perform brief fables that feature birds that speak in dialect. 

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