Discovering DARE: Linguistic lessons from the Dictionary of American Regional English


Discovering DARE: Linguistic lessons from the Dictionary of American Regional English provides a week-long unit, 5 multi-activity lessons, on language variation and change in American English based on DARE. As an overview of the curriculum, we first introduce the differences between language and dialect, as well as the distinctions between a standard and dialect variety of a language. We explore different types of dictionaries and the elements that are part of these different dictionary entries. Regional and ethnic dialects are investigated, including heritage languages. Finally, we examine how language and identity interact.

This curriculum is intended to be used by high school teachers and college instructors, whatever their training in linguistics and language variation. To better equip instructors, we have included background information and additional resources that teachers can use to prepare for each lesson, thereby becoming the language experts.

Additionally, the curriculum allows students to draw upon experiences with and knowledge about language varieties, starting with their own language usage that differs dependent upon place and people: home, school, peers, sports, work. This provides for immediate engagement in discussion and the feeling of empowerment.

The goals for students who engage with this curriculum are the following: (1) To develop an awareness of and respect for language variation within one’s own dialect and that of others. (2) To listen to and analyze authentic voices with varied language patterns. (3) To realize how language authorities are constructed.

Moreover, we believe students who examine language variation in secondary and post-secondary courses will begin to critically consider the language used both within texts and in their daily communications with others. Through these interactions, students will gain an appreciation for diversity, linguistic and otherwise, that extends beyond the classroom walls.

Outline of Curriculum

Day 1: Language and Dialect

Day 2: Dictionaries

Day 3: Regional Dialect Variation

Day 4: Ethnic Dialects

Day 5: Identity

The teacher’s manual, student workbook, and supplemental readings are available to download here.

Teacher’s Manual:

Discovering DARE_Language Variation Teacher’s Manual_FINAL

Student Workbook:

Discovering DARE_Language Variation Student Workbook_FINAL

Supplementary Readings:

Discovering DARE_Language Variation Supplemental Readings FINAL

Audio clips may be requested using the form below. Requests are fulfilled within 7 to 10 business days. Thank you for your interest in using Discovering DARE!