“But My Students All Speak English”: Ethical Research Issues of Aboriginal English


  • Lynne Wiltse




In this article I explore ethical issues in relation to the topic of Aboriginal students who speak a dialect of English. Taking the form of a retrospective inquiry, I draw on data from an earlier study that examined Aboriginal English in the broader context of Aboriginal language loss and revival. Three interrelated ethical issues are discussed: the relationship between the dialect spoken by Aboriginal students and the ancestral language they no longer speak; the educational implications of Aboriginal English-speakers in the classroom; and insider-outsider issues of a non-Aboriginal English-speaking researcher working in the areas of Aboriginal education and language. I also review the recent literature in the field of Aboriginal English and outline changes that have occurred in classroom practice. Whereas in the past the common aim was to eliminate the home dialect, the goal of current programs is to add Standard English as an additional dialect to students’ repertoires of linguistic varieties. Suggestions are offered for educators interested in using a bi-dialectal approach in the classroom.




How to Cite

Wiltse, L. (2011). “But My Students All Speak English”: Ethical Research Issues of Aboriginal English. TESL Canada Journal, 28, 53. https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v28i0.1081