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Linguistic Discrimination and the Oral Ability – Is Your Rubric Producing Inequity

Photo of Poppy Slocum


Poppy Slocum, Ph.D: Associate Professor of Communication Studies, LaGuardia Community College

Poppy Slocum has her PhD in Linguistics from Stony Brook University. She is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at LaGuardia Community College, where she is committed to applying sociolinguistic theory to her teaching. She is working to help others do the same by showing how the basic linguistic principle that all languages and dialects are equally communicatively valid has consequences for a wide range of teaching, from English to Biology courses. Her current research project, in collaboration with Dr. de Cuba, is focused on uncovering harmful practices in public speaking textbooks.

Photo of Carlos DeCuba


Carlos de Cuba, Ph.D: Assistant Professor, Department of Communications & Performing Arts, Kingsborough Community College

Carlos de Cuba has a PhD in Linguistics and an MA in TESOL, both from Stony Brook University. He has taught at Stony Brook, Pomona College, The University of Calgary and CUNY Queens College. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Speech Communication in the Department of Communications & Performing Arts at Kingsborough Community College. His research interests lie in the areas of theoretical and applied linguistics. Carlos is committed to the goal of equity in the classroom, and his work with Dr. Slocum focuses on issues of language ideology and language policy in the classroom.



Linguistic discrimination arises from a system of myths about language and grammar and a lack of awareness of the biases many of us have against speakers of so-called “nonstandard” varieties of language. These biases can have adverse effects for speakers of these varieties of English, including lower grades, lower expectations from teachers and disengagement from school. At the end of this workshop, participants will be more aware of dialectal variation and understand that all languages and dialects are equally logically valid. They will gain an understanding of the damage linguistic discrimination has on students, and how assessment rubrics can perpetuate this damage. Participants will examine how these rubrics can reinforce linguistic discrimination and fail to fairly or accurately assess student speech, and gain practice writing oral rubrics that assess effective communication without unfairly penalizing students for their linguistic variety.

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the illogical, racist, and classist nature of Standard Language Ideology.
  2. Gain the tools to remove Standard Language Ideology from their Oral Communication assessment rubrics.