for educators

For Educators

texas ranchersThe following curriculum has been designed to support Do You Speak American?  for high school and college students  and includes five units based on the three-hour program. The resources provided on this Web site are available free of charge; each unit of study provides strategies for integrating closed caption logovideo segments from the program, other resources on the Do You Speak American?  Web site and Web-based resources found elsewhere on the Internet. Each unit features instructional tools, discussion questions, student activities, and a bibliography.   DYSA?  is closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Curricular Units*

Viewers' Guide

Track that Word! Database

Take a moment to explore our Track that Word! database to discover the origins and evolution of hundreds of words and expressions - from 19th century college slang to 21st century spambots. Track that Word! has over 1300 words to explore. Many of the terms and words appear in the broadcast.

Teacher Training & Development 

The Center for Applied Linguistics has designed a special guide for using Do You Speak American? in inquiry-based teacher preparation and professional development sessions.  The professional development units available in this guide can help teachers of all disciplines enhance their knowledge about how language is patterned and how it can vary.   Teachers who use Do You Speak American? as a resource for their own learning may also want to use it in their classrooms for standards-based teaching and learning about language.

DYSA Advisors

Karen Jaffe, Manager, Education Projects, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, has married her expertise in curriculum development with a broadcasting career to generate innovative projects and initiatives utilizing electronic media targeted to youth. She began her career in radio and television where she worked in news, public affairs and promotion. At the National Education Association she was a communications specialist. Out of the NEA’s foundation, Ms. Jaffe founded KIDSNET, a clearinghouse and educational nonprofit serving educators, policymakers, NGOs, and parents involved in media related to children and youth. During her tenure at KIDSNET Jaffe supervised the development and dissemination of various elementary, secondary and post-secondary curricula, many designed for both formal and informal education. She conceived the Science Friday Kids Connection middle school Web site to support the NPR Science Friday series that was launched with CPB funding and now funded by NSF. She served on the first Advisory Board of the National Endowment for Children’s Educational Television of the U.S. Department of Commerce, wrote a column on children’s media for the LA Times syndicate, and consulted on educational projects for the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Museum of TV and Radio, and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Prior to joining MLP she was Vice President for External Relations for Child Trends, a national nonprofit research institution that studies issues related to children and youth. At MLP she directs the NewsHour’s The News project as well as reviews educational collateral for television documentaries. Ms. Jaffe has a B.S. in broadcasting and film from the School of Communication at Boston University.

The Center for Applied Linguistics

  • Carolyn Temple Adger is Director of the Language in Society Division at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. Dr. Adger is a sociolinguist. Her work includes research on social interaction in educational settings, professional development for educators, and technical assistance for associations and government agencies on language and literacy. Her books include Dialects in Schools and Communities (co-authored) and What Teachers Need to Know About Language (co-edited).
  • Susan M. Hoyle is a sociolinguist and an independent consultant to the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. Dr. Hoyle has conducted research on children’s interaction in play settings and on adults’ talk at work. Among her publication are Kids’ Talk: Strategic Language Use in Later Childhood (co-edited) and contributions to the International Encyclopedia of Linguistics and the Handbook of Pragmatics.
  • Jeffrey Reaser is a doctoral student in sociolinguistics at Duke University and a member of the North Carolina Language and Life Project at North Carolina State University. He has conducted research on English dialects in eastern North Carolina and in the Bahamas. His other interests include language in education.

Lee West, Ph.D. is a professor at  California State University Hayward who writes on issues of diversity, personal relationships, nonverbal communication, and the communication of disclosure and deception. She is the author of numerous articles on personal relationships, focusing particularly on the communicative aspects of social identities for couples and their communities. She has also written extensively on issues of gender, for both professional journals and a college textbook, and has authored a chapter on nonverbal communication in jury selection. West is invited to address issues of diversity and communication for professional organizations, speaking at a public forum by the University of Iowa Office of Affirmative Action on “Exploring the Intersections Between Race and Gender,” and to the Iowa Public Defender’s Association on “Nonverbal Communication and Deception: Cultural Biases and Cultural Codes.” She is adjunct faculty at California State University, Hayward, a special assistant at the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the regional accreditation association for universities and colleges, and provides consultation on issues of diversity for media programs and the American College Testing (ACT). She received her M.A. from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.

Do You Speak American? Core Advisors

Guy Bailey, Ph.D.
Linguist of Springville
San Antonio, TX

Dennis Baron, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

John Baugh, Ph.D.
Stanford University

Connie Eble, Ph.D.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Edward Finegan, Ph.D.
The University of Southern California

John Fought, Ph.D.
Diamond Bar, CA

Barbara Johnstone, Ph.D.
Carnegie Mellon University

Jesse Sheidlower
Editor, Oxford English Dictionary in America

Walt Wolfram,  Ph.D.
NC State University

*The curricular units associated with Do You Speak American? have been designed for a very general approach to linguistics and language and may be relevant to English, Speech, History, or Communications courses at the college level. The units have not been designed for a particular college sequence and in fact, may be well suited to a junior college curriculum.

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The Do You Speak American? curriculum was made possible, in part, by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.


National Endowment for the Humanities Hewlett Foundation Ford Foundation   Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Carnegie Corporation

National Endowment
for the Humanities

William and Flora Hewlett


Rosalind P.

Arthur Vining
Davis Foundations

Corporation of New York