Student Guide: Summary & Questions to Ask Your Professor

This section of the Student Guide describes African American English styles and patterns used in college writing to encourage you to make strategic linguistic choices and advocate for the right to your own writing. 

The following sections provide examples of specific African American English organizational styles, word choices, grammar patterns, and spelling variation and the implications for graded writing. You can apply this knowledge by asking your instructor some of the following questions, either in class or in one-on-one settings such as office hours and conferences.

In Class

  • How might a specific intended audience [name an audience if you have one in mind] impact our writing for this assignment?
  • I would like to use African American English organization/word choice/grammar in this assignment in order to reach my intended audience/accomplish my purpose for writing. How will the use of African American English be considered in feedback/rubrics/grades?

In Office Hours and One-on-one Conferences

  • I see you made a lot of comments on ___(ex: grammar, punctuation, citation, etc.)__. This pattern/style is new to me. Can you explain how to use it or point me to some resources on this pattern/style?
  • I see that this part of my paper was __(ex: confusing, unclear, unreadable, unfocused)___. What I have written is how I would communicate this idea using my language patterns. What alternative language patterns would be better for communicating this idea to you or to my audience?
  • If I change the grammar/structure of this sentence, it will actually change the meaning for my intended audience. Do you have alternative suggestions?

Next Page: Organizational Styles