Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Benjamin . Pogodzinski


Language and its use in classrooms has a significant impact on student motivation and self-perception (Delpit, 1988; Lei, 2009). Even more curious and significant is the motivation of teachers that intentionally use culturally-specific language and affectations, also known as code-switching, as an instructional device. This dissertation will examine the use of code-switching by African-American or Black teachers in urban, non-White classrooms. It will explore the foundations of sociolinguistics, specifically, language as a social construct (Gumperz; 1982; Gal, 2014; Levinson, 2015), as well as a communicative tool. In the span of the research contained in this dissertation, 12 African-American teachers will self-identify as users of culturally-specific language. These teachers will be interviewed regarding their use of language in the classroom and the motivation for its variation in use. The goal will not only be to determine the teachers’ reasons for using a specific language pattern but to discuss the perceived and observed responses and reactions of the students. At its culmination, teacher rationale for the use of culturally-specific language will be identified as well as its possible and perceived impact on students.