Date of Award

Fall 1993

Project Type


Program or Major

Reading and Writing Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Jane Hansen


This study addresses issues of linguistic and cultural differences in the context of writing workshop in a second grade classroom in Hawaii. The major purpose of the study was to look at the ways a native born teacher responds orally to her students who share her own bidialectical background. Most of the students are part-Hawaiian and speak a nonprestigious dialect called Hawaii Creole English (HCE) as their primary language and standard English (SE) as their secondary language. Not only do these students speak a dialect particular to the Hawaiian Islands, but their classroom interactions can be strikingly different from those of mainstream culture.

The primary data for the study were transcripts from audiotapes of the teacher talking with her students during whole-class mini-lessons, small-group discussions and individual teacher-student conferences. The secondary data for the study were mimeographed copies of the writings of the children with whom the teacher conferred.

The data show that the teacher talked to her bidialectical students in ways that were uniquely responsive to the Hawaiian culture; she encouraged the use of "talk-story" in group discussions and in no situation did she curtail their use of Hawaii Creole English. The teacher's writing conference style was conversational in nature, which was compatible with the Hawaiian culture. The relaxed social interactions in the classroom allowed the Hawaiian children to converse about their writing in a lively manner, especially in the student-teacher conferences. Although the children spoke with many features of Hawaii Creole English, they wrote primarily in standard English. Their use of HCE helped them articulate their knowledge about their personal interests which in turn facilitated their interest in their writing. In other words, the children's use of Hawaii Creole English positively influenced their writing which was in standard English.

The investigator calls for a pluralist position for students who speak languages other than standard English so they can use their native dialect when they talk in the classroom and, in doing so, become increasingly literate in standard English.