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Learn More About Urban Education

Common Terms Used in Urban Education


Code Switching: The practice of moving back and forth between two languages or between two dialects or registers of the same language. Code switching occurs far more often in conversation than in writing.Culture: The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group (ex: youth culture; drug culture).

Dialect: A regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a way of speaking that differs from the standard variety of the language.

Diversity: The state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness; variety; multiformity; a point of difference.Linguistics: The study of the nature, structure, and variation of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics.Literacy: The ability to read and write; a person's knowledge of a particular subject or field (ex: computer literacy).

Language: A human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.

Multicultural: Of, pertaining to, or representing several different cultures or cultural elements (ex: a multicultural society).

National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE): A coalition of 33 member organizations of teachers, teacher educators, content specialists, and local and state policy makers (including TESOL and other Specialized Professional Associations, or SPAs). The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize NCATE as a professional accrediting body for teacher preparation in the United States.

Poverty: The state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor; indigence.

Reform: The improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, or unsatisfactory (ex: social reform; spelling reform).

Register: One of many styles or varieties of language determined by such factors as social occasion, purpose, and audience.

Retention Rate: A measure of academic progression of a group of students from one period of time to the next. Graduation rates are a measure of the success of those students in attaining their academic goals. Both retention rates and graduation rates are affected by student characteristics, choices, and behaviors and by institutional characteristics and programs.

Special Education: Classroom or private instruction involving techniques, exercises, and subject matter designed for students whose learning needs cannot be met by a standard school curriculum.

Social Justice: The distribution of advantages and disadvantages within a society.

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): A global education association based in Alexandria, Virginia, in the United States. TESOL’s mission is to ensure excellence in English language teaching to speakers of other languages.

Urban:  "of or pertaining to a city or city life," as a noun, "city dweller," from urbs (gen. urbis) "city," {of unknown origin.}; manners and styles of expression conducive to living in a city. Urban renewal, euphemistic for "slum clearance," is recorded from 1955