Nov. 30, 2004

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Contact: Roberta Pokphanh, KU Division of Biological Sciences, (785) 864-3641.

Expert on African-American language to speak at KU bioscience lecture series

LAWRENCE -- Julie Washington, senior associate research scientist at the University of Michigan's Institute for Human Adjustment, will present “The Michigan Project on African-American Language: Considering the Impact of Dialectal Variation” at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, in Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union at the University of Kansas.

Washington's lecture is funded by the Bioscience Initiative, a federally funded program within KU's Division of Biological Sciences that promotes student diversity in biomedical research. KU's Department of Speech-Language-Hearing also sponsors Washington's lecture. It is free and open to the public.

Washington's remarks will describe a large project under way to understand the linguistic variation and general language abilities of African-American children and the impact of those skills on academic and clinical performance. As national attention has focused on the widening achievement gap between African-Americans and other students, many complex variables have affected this situation. The cultural dialect spoken by African-American children and their families is one variable that has received renewed interest in recent years.

Washington's research focuses on the assessment of the grammar of preschool speakers of African-American English. She has been at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor since 1989. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., and a master's degree in speech and language pathology and a doctorate in education from the University of Michigan.

For more information, contact Roberta Pokphanh, program assistant in the Division of Biological Sciences, at (785) 864-3641 or


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