“I’m sorry!” I whisper at my pencil case, as I accidentally zip my scissors in the zip. “Did you just talk to your pencil case?” My friend asks.
I talk a lot.
If you had spied my sister and I talking together it was like watching a car race. we would be talking over each other, three different conversations at a time, zooming around questions and speeding up to share our ideas first.
OK so you get the idea. I talk a lot and I talk about everything.
And I have been thinking about all this talk a lot lately, so here come my “not-knowings”.
What is the point of all that talk?
How does all this talk develop?
Where does it all come from?
Is there any use to how much or little we talk?
What things do I do that stop talk from developing?
I can wonder about this from two points of view. Firstly, as a mum and secondly as a teacher. Ready for the inquiry around talk to start? OK, here we go…
Lets start with thinking about it from the mum point of view.
My son loves to talk and chatter, everyday he takes on new words and enjoys yelling them and whispering them and blending them together. Hilariously and somewhat frustratingly on his part at the moment, he doesn’t pronounce every sound in each word. This leads to many words sounding like “poo”
- poo – pool
- poo- push
- poo- pull
- poo- poo
This is becoming more confusing as he is becoming more toilet trained… My niece on the other hand (also an almost two-year old) pronounces each letter with careful precision. This is amusing in its own way. The other day she watched me intently as I said purple, she then slowly pouted her lips to say “pURple”. Watching the language development of these little humans has taught me something huge, yet very obvious.
You can only say what you hear.
There are two modes of communication, receptive and expressive. Receptive is everything we can receive so listening, viewing and reading are forms of receptive communication. Expressive is a term for the communication we can express so speaking, writing and creating are expressive forms of communication.
Our communication starts always as receptive. we need to be able to receive messages before we can express our own. I think of this in relation to my poor skills in speaking German. I can understand way more German than I can speak, I can even read some basic words…but ask me to speak or write in German and I am kaput!
It all this talk must come simply from what we hear. For us to be able to express any message we need to first be recipients of it. For example, we can’t talk about fight club if we don’t know about fight club!
We need to hear and listen to language and we need to listen to a lot of it. There are real links between the amount of vocabulary a child hears to their own oral language development. And one of the best ways to increase the range of vocabulary of anyone is to read. This is because the author of the text you are reading has an entirely different vocabulary to you. So when you read a text you are speaking from someone else’s vocabulary base. Reading enriches the vocabulary of the reader and the listener.
Everyday I’m trying to read more, sing more and speak more with my little “poo” talker but also in the back of my mind are the things I am wondering about oral language development as a teacher.
How does this talk develop at school? What do I do to promote it?
How does oral language pay-off when it comes to the “academics” of school (writing, reading, creating) ?
For more on oral language at home have a look at:
Fox, Mem. Reading magic. Macmillan Publishers Aus., 2012.
*And more… when I discover them!