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In Other Words

Lessons on Grammar, Code-Switching, and Academic Writing

By David W Brown
Foreword by Rebecca S Wheeler

Help adolescents build facility with the formal register of school by connecting its conventions to the conventions of the language they speak outside the classroom.  35 lessons using examples drawn from commonly taught literature as well as from popular culture provide the scaffolding students need to build academic English.

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Full Description

Hear a podcast where David West Brown and Rebecca Wheeler discuss code-switching. 

In Other Words is a tour de force. As a linguist and teacher educator, I am grateful to David West Brown for bringing his powerhouse of knowledge and real-world savvy to our 21st-century English classrooms.
—Rebecca S. Wheeler
Coauthor of Code Switching
In Other Words provides teachers with practical step-by-step suggestions for helping secondary students understand and produce the academic writing expected in school. No other text on writing that I am familiar with lays out the keys to successful academic writing as well as this book does.
—David E. Freeman
Coauthor of Essential Linguistics
Grammar doesn’t have to be boring! David West Brown shows us how to facilitate students’ use of standard English in their writing, lifting grammar from the page and into students’ habits.
—Douglas Fisher
Coauthor of Word Wise & Content Rich
Some of your students may need a better grasp on conventional grammar. Others may need help with the demands of academic writing. Still others may write in Vernacular English or have limited English proficiency. But all of them need to be able to use Standard English well to succeed in school and in the workplace. In Other Words helps adolescents build facility with the formal register of school by connecting its conventions to the conventions of the language they speak outside the classroom.
In Other Words presents 35 detailed, practical, and sensitive lessons using examples drawn from commonly taught literature and from popular culture. For students who need it most, you’ll increase their exposure to academic English. At the same time, you’ll support deeper language study throughout the classroom.
  • Lessons on informal English help students find alternatives to commonly spoken but academically inappropriate expressions such as the colloquial like.
  • Lessons on Vernacular English bridge the language of home and school to help vernacular speakers code-switch effectively and master formal writing.
  • Lessons on academic language help all students internalize the subtle grammatical structures that separate academic writing from other genres.
For each lesson, David West Brown provides a concise background in the supporting theory, as well as reproducible student handouts. And a Making the Lessons Your Own section helps you extend his ideas for code-switching and language study into both the writing process and assessment. It offers specifics for both integrating language study into your teaching and conducting ongoing assessments.
Use In Other Words and embed language study into everything you do. You’ll soon see that while there’s no such thing as a standard student, every student can communicate effectively in Standard English.

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A Note About Linguistic Diversity

Lessons 1–4: Discovering Some Grammatical Rules for Like

Lesson 1: Introduction

Lesson 2: Uses of Like

Lesson 3: How Like Functions

Lesson 4: Quotatives and Discourse Markers

Lesson 5: Discovering Some Grammatical Rules for Ain’t

Lesson 5: Uses of Ain’t

Lesson 6: Social Uses of Ain’t

Lesson 6: Ain’t in the Dictionary

Lessons 7–10: What Is Standard English?

Lesson 7: What Is Formal English?

Lesson 8: What Is Formal English? Continued

Lesson 9: Code-Switching Using Ain’t

Lesson 10: Code-Switching Using Predicative Adjectives

Lesson 11: Reflexive Pronouns

Lesson 11: Code-Switching Using Reflexive Pronouns

LESSONS 12–14: Dictionaries

Lesson 12: Reading Dictionaries

Lesson 13: Reading and Writing Dictionaries

Lesson 14: Revising Dictionary Entries

LESSONS 15–18: Verb Tense and Aspect and Subject-Verb Agreement

Lesson 15: Verb Tenses

Lesson 16: Uses of the Verb to Be

Lesson 17: Code-Switching Using Habitual Be

Lesson 18: Code-Switching Using the Third-Person Singular

LESSONS 19–21: Code-Switching Review

Lesson 19: Code-Switching Review

Lesson 20: Code-Switching Review, Continued

Lesson 21: Code-Switching Review, Continued

LESSONS 22–24: Topic/Comment Organization in Sentences

Lesson 22: Language Variation According to Purpose

Lesson 23: Introduction to Topic/Comment

Lesson 24: Topic/Comment in Academic Writing

LESSONS 25–29: The Known/New Contract and Information Structure

Lesson 25: The Known/New Contract

Lesson 26: Identifying Known/New Information

Lesson 27: Chaining Information

Lesson 28: Nominalization

Lesson 29: Chaining Information, Continued

LESSONS 30–31: Conjunctive Resources and Cohesion

Lesson 30: Conjunctive Resources

Lesson 31: Conjunctive Resources, Continued

LESSONS 32–34: Verb Processes

Lesson 32: Types of Verb Processes

Lesson 33: Abstract Participants of Verbs

Lesson 34: Verbs of Being

LESSON 35: Academic Language Review

Lesson 35: Academic Language Review

Incorporating Language Study into Your Classroom

Making the Lessons Your Own