Ways with Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms
Ways with Words, first published in 1983, is a classic study of children learning to use language at home and at school in two communities only a few miles apart in the south-eastern United States. 'Roadville' is a white working-class community of families steeped for generations in the life of textile mills; 'Trackton' is an African-American working-class community whose older generations grew up farming the land, but whose existent members work in the mills. In tracing the children's language development the author shows the deep cultural differences between the two communities, whose ways with words differ as strikingly from each other as either does from the pattern of the townspeople, the 'mainstream' blacks and whites who hold power in the schools and workplaces of the region. Employing the combined skills of ethnographer, social historian, and teacher, the author raises fundamental questions about the nature of language development, the effects of literacy on oral language habits, and the sources of communication problems in schools and workplaces.
Note on transcriptions
Gettin on in two communities
Learning how to talk in Trackton
Teaching how to talk in Roadville
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activities adults answer asked attention baby become begin behavior boys called carry changes child church classroom conversation cultural described direct discussion early especially example expected experiences follow girls give given grade hear individual interactions keep kind knowledge language letters listen lives look materials meaning mill months mother move notes numerous occasions older once oral parents participation particular patterns performance person pieces play practice preschool questions reading record region response Roadville role rules share similar social sometimes specific story talk tasks teachers teaching tell things told topic town townspeople toys Trackton types usually values week women writing written young