• The Language Use of Young Children Living in Poverty: An Ethnographic Case Study

      Knowles, Roxanne Ramirez; Tift College of Education
      ABSTRACT ROXANNE RAMIREZ KNOWLES THE LANGUAGE USE OF YOUNG CHILDREN LIVING IN POVERTY: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC CASE STUDY Under the direction of JANE WEST Ed.D. The language use of children from low-income households is often viewed as deficient when compared to wealthier children. This deficit-thinking view negatively stigmatizes young children as young as kindergarten. A growing body of research seeks alternate frameworks to view children from low-income households from a nondeficit lens. The purpose of this research was to view the language use of children from low-income households from a nondeficit perspective. This ethnographic case study used a Bakhtinian dialogical lens to analyze the language use of four pre-K students over the course of their school year. Data collection included field notes, informal interviews, and audio recordings of the children’s conversations. Data analysis focused solely on the children’s transcribed conversations. Three Bakhtinian dialogical concepts were evident in the children’s language use: speech genres, carnivalesque, and multivoicedness. Conclusions included children use language intentionally, children use play as an avenue to explore friendship and relationships, children’s language use can be understood through the application of Bakhtinian concepts, children learn speech genres, and children are aware of unspoken power dynamics. The primary implication of this research is that there are alternatives to deficit thinking such as Bakhtinian dialogism that can benefit teachers and students. Recommendations for future research include more studies that use Bakhtinian dialogical concepts to study young children’s language, as well as studies that concentrate on a singular Bakhtinian concept as well as alternate Bakhtinian concepts not utilized in the current study. Further research regarding the children’s use of carnivalesque should also include longitudinal studies. Additionally, future research on children’s language use should include the children’s families.