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Using Ethnography to Bring Children’s Communicative and Cultural Worlds into Focus

  • Martha B. Crago
  • Elizabeth Cole

Abstract

In one way or another, all of the chapters in this book are attempts to capture an accurate and intervention-useful picture of the child who is communicatively disordered. The present chapter is about using a special kind of camera lens in striving to achieve a very wide angle as well as a deep dimensional focus. This “lens” provides a view of communicative competence that is well grounded in a language socialization perspective. Taken seriously, this perspective has the potential to create major changes in thinking about language acquisition, usage, assessment, intervention, and research. These changes may prove to be crucial for meaningful intervention with children, in general, but they have particular importance for the rapidly increasing number of children from minority cultures who are being treated by speech-language pathologists from mainstream cultures. Population forecasts for both Canada and the United States show that as much as one third of the speech-language pathology and audiology caseload in the schools will be children from black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native North American cultures within the next decade (ASHA, 1988; Cole, 1989; Crago, 1990a; Shewan, 1988). Speech-language pathologists from these cultures comprise a very small minority of the profession and the vast majority of speech-language pathologists already in practice feel they are unprepared to provide adequate service to children of other cultures (ASHA, 1988; Cole, 1989; Des Bois, 1989; Shewan & Malm, 1989). The stark reality of such demographics is only enhanced by research findings on language socialization that attest to the intertwined nature of culture and language. A culturally sensitive refocusing of our assessment and intervention practices is long overdue.

Keywords

Language Acquisition Communicative Interaction Ethnographic Research Cultural World Communicative Competence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha B. Crago
  • Elizabeth Cole

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