A Language Dilemma

Are we creating a generation that will struggle with oral language and a range of adequate vocabulary due to the lack of face to face interaction and social dialogue? An article written by the herald “Use of gadgets and parents too busy to talk suspected of hindering children’s language development” discusses what seems to be a growing dilemma with young students starting school. How wide spread this is seems to be debatable but a growing number of schools are reporting a drop in oral language for those starting school. Most schools test students oral language upon entering school  in New Zealand so it will be possible to track some of this data.

How will this impact on students as they continue their education and what are the underlying reasons? There is a growing awareness that the numbers of hours spent by students on individual devices both at school and at home does affect certain aspects of development. No longer is there a need to interact with your family on a shared board game throwing the dice and arguing over scrabble words. All can be done while each has their own device needing very little oral interaction. Parents and educators alike need to be aware of this and recognise the importance of time and opportunity for talking with children not at them or directing them. I like these simple things that can be done throughout the day.

  • Help children with simple activities and, in doing so, have lots of conversational exchanges.
  • Tell children words and expressions but also make sure they are able to frequently try out new language.
  • Read aloud to children and give them time to think over what they have heard. Ask lots of closed questions (with one-word answers) and open questions (those with many different answers).
  • Try to talk with, not at, your children.
  • Encourage them to retell their favourite stories from books or their own experience.
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