Noted Scholar to Discuss Myths of Language and College Education in Lecture at UA

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Dr. Shirley Brice Heath, a linguistic anthropologist and a former MacArthur Foundation fellow, will speak on “What’s Language Got to Do With It?” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, in Gorgas Library, room 205 at The University of Alabama.

The talk, part of the Honors College & Housing-Residential Speaker’s Series, is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Her talk will focus on the simplistic claims and myths surrounding language and student success. These myths create strong pressures on teachers to “fix” the language of students who enter college. What happens when we look at exceptions to the usual myths about language?

Heath will tell her story as a Southerner who grew up without books and found that language made both no difference and yet all the difference for her. Students are invited to come along and to bring with them something they remember reading as children.

Heath has studied children’s learning and language development in relation to their social and cultural environments. Her study, “Ways with Words: Language, Life, and Work in Communities and Classrooms,” which was based on over a decade of fieldwork in the Piedmont Carolinas, followed children’s language development at home and at school by comparing two communities only a few miles apart.

Her international fieldwork has included research on youth-based community organizations devoted to environmental projects, social justice, enterprise development and educational inclusion. She teaches at Stanford University and Brown University. Her Web site is at

The recruiting, educating and promoting of the best and brightest students is the mission of the Honors College, whose creation in September 2003 affirms The University of Alabama’s commitment to empower students to achieve the very top of their potential, and then be rewarded for that achievement. The program’s Web site is at

The English department is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All-American Teams.


Richard LeComte, UA Public Relations, 205/348-3782,


Dr. Amy Dayton-Wood,, 205/348-4644