Using the 'improper' language in the classroom: The conflict between language use and legitimate varieties in education. Evidence from a Greek Cypriot classroom
SourceLanguage and Education
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This paper examines the tensions created in a Greek Cypriot primary classroom between the legitimate variety of the school, Standard Modern Greek, and the home variety of the students, the Greek Cypriot Dialect. Ethnographic data are presented to indicate that language use in the classroom, contrary to what language policy-makers argue, is multi-levelled and complex. The choice of linguistic variety depends on the occasions of communication, with the Standard associated with formality and appropriateness and the domain of actual lesson, while the Dialect is mostly associated with naturally occurring talk and informality. Additionally, it is documented that a middle linguistic variety is created where certain features of the Dialect are legitimised and 'penetrate' more standard-dominant occasions. Despite this, not all the students seem to comply with the norms set out by the school and the teachers, and very often tensions are created between students' language choice and the norm of the classroom with serious educational and pedagogic implications.