Head who knew the dan­ger of his di­alect

The Guardian - - JOURNAL LETTERS -

Dreda Say Mitchell has made the er­ror of con­fus­ing ac­cent with vari­a­tions in the spo­ken word (Why is there still so much prej­u­dice to­wards work­ing-class ac­cents?, 12 July).

I taught in a for­mer min­ing vil­lage in west Cum­bria, where the head­teacher, a pas­sion­ately proud lo­cal who could use his na­tive di­alect with aplomb, was in­sis­tent that in the class­room the pupils spoke with cor­rect gram­mar and speech while talk­ing to teach­ers and other adults.

He did this be­cause he knew that to suc­ceed in a world out­side the area the chil­dren needed to be un­der­stood. Ac­cent had noth­ing to do with it. Lan­guage is a means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

I hate sound­ing snob­bish about this, but as a re­tired teacher who has had more than her fair share of sec­re­taries of state telling me how to teach, I ex­pect politi­cians to speak in any ac­cent they like, just so long as they place an “ng” sound where ap­pro­pri­ate and prac­tise the “th” sound Dreda finds so dif­fi­cult. That’s what we teach our pupils. It’s do­ing chil­dren a dis­ser­vice other­wise. Janet Mans­field As­pa­tria, Cum­bria

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