Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Language and Education

pp 3287-3300

Variationist Approaches to Language and Education

  • Kirk HazenAffiliated withWest Virginia University, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


For over four decades, variationists have investigated the social dilemmas of language and education. This effort is based on the study of language variation, with language variation being a cover term for both synchronic and diachronic variation (variation in space and over time). Since language variation is a daily presence in the classroom, many proactive efforts of variationists have focused on how educational policies and practitioners handle language variation.

Variationist sociolinguistics can be seen as both a subtype of sociolinguistics and linguistics: This work is exemplified by The Handbook of Language Variation and Change (Chambers, Trudgill, and Schilling‐Estes, 2002). As linguists, variationists work from the findings of cognitive science to construct explanations for language variation both in the speech community and in the mind. The extraordinary trait of variationists‐cum‐linguists is the inclusion of social factors as well as linguistic fact ...

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