Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Janet Rodgers


George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1912) and its musical adaptation, My Fair Lady (1956) offer 20th century’s most famous example of dialect acquisition: the transformation of Eliza Doolittle under the tutelage of Professor Henry Higgins. The opportunity to work on Barksdale Theatre’s production of My Fair Lady (2012), both as the actress playing Eliza Doolittle and as a dialect coach for the production, prompted an analysis of the dialect pedagogy of Henry Higgins. The centenary of Pygmalion is also a prime juncture to document, in contrast or complement to Higgins’ model, contemporary theories and techniques of dialect pedagogy. Chapter one of this thesis explores the ideology of dialect acquisition, addressing the issues of dialect prestige and standard speech. Chapter two examines the rapport between teacher/coach and learner/actor, including a comparison of teacher-centered and learner-centered pedagogies and the influence of expectancy theories on learner growth. Chapter three details the methods of dialect acquisition, addresses language learning theories as applied to dialect learning, and offers practical exercises and techniques. The conclusion outlines areas of future consideration to enhance the dialect acquisition process in the classroom and rehearsal hall.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012