Amy, Wendy, and Beth

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Amy, Wendy, and Beth

Learning Language in South Baltimore

By Peggy J. Miller

A lively in-depth study of how three young children from an urban working-class community learned language under everyday conditions.

1982

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Paperback

6 x 9 | 208 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-72944-5

Amy, Wendy, and Beth, the 1980 recipient of the New York Academy of Sciences Edward Sapir Award, is a lively in-depth study of how three young children from an urban working-class community learned language under everyday conditions. It is a sensitive portrayal of the children and their families and offers an innovative approach to the study of language development and social class.

A major conclusion of the study is that the linguistic abilities of working-class children are consistent with previous cross-cultural accounts of the development of communicational skills and, as such, lend no support to past claims that children from the lower classes are linguistically deprived. Instead, Amy, Wendy, and Beth emerge as able and enthusiastic language learners; their families, as caring and competent partners in the language socialization process.

Sound scholarship and original findings about a hitherto neglected population of children lend special value to this work not only for scholars in psychology, linguistics, and anthropology, but for educators and policymakers as well.

Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. Background
Studies of Social Class and Language Development
Studies of Child Language
Studying Language Development in South Baltimore: Toward a Fairer Assessment of Knowledge

2. Procedures
Research Site: South Baltimore
Subjects: Search and Selection
Design and Methods
Description

3. The Children and Their Families
Amy
Wendy
Beth

4. Direct Instruction in Language and Speaking
Naming People and Things
Speaking Appropriately
Speaking Appropriately to Dolls
Rhyming, Singing, and Playing Verbal Games
Using Correct Grammar, Pronunciation, and Intonation
Counting, Reciting the Alphabet, Identifying Colors
Other
Other Studies of Direct Instruction
Learning from Direct Instruction
Other Issues Related to Direct Instruction

5. Combining Words to Express Meanings
Adequacy of the Categories
Sequence of Development of Semantic/Syntactic Relations

6. Summaries, Conclusions, Questions
The Children and Their Families
Direct Instruction in Language and Speaking
Combining Words to Express Meanings
Inter-relating Descriptions
Previous Studies of the Verbal Abilities of White Children from the Lower Classes
Research Strategy

Appendices
A. Consent Form
B. Recording Equipment for Observation Sessions
C. Toys for Observation Sessions
D. Transcription Procedures
E. Categories of Semantic/Syntactic Relations: Definitions and Examples

References
Name Index
Subject Index

Peggy J. Miller is Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.