Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Oral Language-Sticks

The importance of oral language for children. After many years working with young children and even older children I still have a sense of sadness when I come across children who can't express their wants and needs or even recount a fun experience with confidence.

I believe it is very important for children to have a sense of confidence in themselves when using oral language. Often it is girls who hold back and allow the same children to answers questions and make statements on whatever line or topic we are dealing with at the time. I can say it is probably sometimes teachers fault who allow or cater to boys speech more so thank girls. I am probably guilty of doing just that. However I am very conscious of it and steer away from sexist or racist pedegogy of teaching.

Oral Language Sticks
I use these when I am in certain classes where I know there are particular children who dominate the conversation. I use cards or sticks with children's names on them. I let the class know that I am going to pull out a name from my box and that child when then have to answer my questions or make a satement. That means the dominating child will have to allow others to speak AND require more reluctant children to build confidence in their speech when it is expected of them. Yes it's hard to immplement and yes you will get resistence, but in the long run you will see positive results.

I first saw this done on an English television documentary where a consultant was asked to change the dynamics of the school. The very confident students were quite angry that they had to take a backseat and within a couple of months they actually didn't like the change of answering questions, so they took out their names from their teachers jars. The teachers worked this out and the documentary crew asked the girls why they did what they did. They said that they knew they couldn't answer the questions when their names where pulled out of the jars, so it was easier to take their names out. Or in another words, they didn't want to be shown up for not knowing answers when in the past they often knew the answers and so were more than confident at answering questions.

If as a teacher you try this in your class, ensure you check out the number of sticks match the number of children in your class. Oh and by the way this works very well with children, teens and adults.

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