My Language Map
Children need language awareness to open their horizons. Exposing children to a large variety of languages is extremely important because languages play a huge part in forming a person’s identity. Children may also encounter a range of languages in everyday life, so it would be beneficial for children to have some awareness of other languages in addition to understanding their own mother tongue. ‘The languages and experiences they brought to the classroom were genuinely valued and celebrated’. (Bain et al, 1992: 159). Bain et al suggest that language awareness for children can be very positive. Children enjoy learning about different languages because languages provide an insight into a person’s background; this can be quite engaging to the children as they may discover something about a language which they did not know before. Creating language history presentations or posters can be a worthwhile activity linked to languages; this is valuable for the children because they can research the languages that their families use and discuss how their past has influenced the way they use languages today. Children are encouraged to make an interactive presentation of their language history. The children can make recordings of their families’ dialect and accents; these sound recordings can be played to the rest of the class highlighting the differentiation in the way people speak. Children’s understanding of different accents and dialects can also be broadened through the use of language histories; not only are children thinking about their personal use of language, but they are also thinking about what their language may have in common with another child’s. As a result of watching other people’s language presentations and comparing them with my own I have realised; I have a strong South East accent because I have lived in the south of England since I was born. The language history activity is also fulfilling a requirement of the National Curriculum because it states that: ‘Pupils should be taught about how speech varies: in different circumstances [for example, to reflect on how their speech changes in more formal situations] and to take account of different listeners [for example, adapting what they say when speaking to people they do not know]’. (Department for Education, 2013: 3). The activity is therefore relevant to the National Curriculum as pupils are teaching other pupils about how they speak, which therefore means children are learning about how speech varies. Some children may discuss how they speak differently depending on the situation they are in; for example, if a child was speaking to their grandparents they may speak differently to when they are talking to their friends. I have learnt that social interaction plays a key role in the acquisition of language. ‘All normal children, from the moment they are born, are surrounded by spoken language. One of the most noticeable facts about babies is that people talk to them’. (Medwell et al, 2012: 24). Medwell et al support the point that children pick up language through listening to others; even babies are absorbing language though they may be too young to understand what it means. When children get older their peers have an influence on their language; some groups of children develop their own type of language which they use as a group, including abbreviations. I feel as though my dialect was affected by the people I was friends with at secondary school, I used ‘slang’ words such as ‘init’ mainly because my friends spoke in ‘slang’ and I wanted to copy them so I fitted in. From my own personal experience I have realised that I speak more formally around my grandparents than when I am with friends. When learning an additional language it is important to consider the language levels of the children. Studying the language levels of the pupils is important to tell how well a child has learnt a new language. Jim Cummings devised two...
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