Instruction for language reflection in primary school
There are many complaints about the language level of the younger generation. It seems as if the Dutch are getting a little worse at language. Language errors are not only made in everyday life, but also on TV and in the newspaper. The Dutch language is therefore complex and must be learned in the right way. Good instruction is essential here.
Instruction during a language lesson can be done in the following six ways:
- Learning concepts
- Learning grammatical concepts
- Targeted questions
- Targeted directions
- Feedback on spontaneous language utterances
- Thinking out loud
Linguistic concepts such as ‘synonym’ or ‘dialect’ must be explicitly taught to children. These concepts increase understanding of the language and language use. But learning linguistic concepts is not as easy as learning other concepts such as “car”. or “chair”, after all, linguistic concepts do not occur in everyday life and so children will only hear them occasionally. Concepts can best be learned through five steps:
- Analyzing examples: Give children example sentences and see what stands out.
- Introduce and describe the term: Explain clearly what the term is. E.g. two words with the same meaning are called a synonym.
- Defining the concept: Here you look at different situations in which the concept can occur, but you also explain when it is not possible. For example, a synonym can never be a single word, it is always two words.
- Learning strategy to recognize understanding: Subsequently, a strategy is taught to be able to discover the concept yourself in a sentence or in the situation.
- Applying the strategy: Ultimately, the students can get started with applying the strategy. This is the processing phase.
Learning grammatical concepts
Grammatical concepts are more difficult for children to learn than linguistic concepts. This is because grammatical concepts are not substantive, but refer to a relationship, they do not refer to anything concrete. Sometimes auxiliary terms are used for children, terms that say a little more than the normal designation. For example, the person form is sometimes called a time word, because the word indicates in which time the sentence appears.
Grammatical concepts are often defined by a different grammatical concept, which makes it difficult for children. For example, an adjective is defined as a word that says something about the noun. In addition, the definition is not unambiguous, a different way is always used. For example, articles are difficult to describe and therefore the definition of an article is simply de, het or een. So a quantity is indicated here (three possibilities). You can also describe concepts based on the form (e.g. noun can be put in the plural), meaning (e.g. numerals are words that indicate a quantity) or grammatical function (e.g. with a conjunction you can use two sentences one sentence). Finally, grammatical concepts are often incompletely defined. For example, it is said that a possessive pronoun is always put directly before an independent pronoun. With my old diary ?? this is not the case. Still, it’s said to keep it easy for kids, but so they can’t apply the rule in every situation.
Teaching grammatical concepts can also be done by means of example sentences. First, find out which concepts the children must already know in order to understand the new concept. For children it is often easiest if concepts are explained on the basis of shape characteristics. In this way they learn what a word or phrase looks like. Then you clarify the term, you explain why it is so called. The term can be delimited by giving example sentences. Then let the children formulate and write down a strategy themselves. Then they can practice.
Asking goal-oriented questions can encourage language perception strategies. You can present children with a specific text or a number of sentences and ask questions about it. What is striking about the sentences? What is the relationship between words? What is the function of the sentence?
You can also stimulate language reflection strategies through targeted instructions. You give certain assignments that provoke language reflection. Clues could include: search all phrases starting with by. or ?? make a new sentence ??. On the basis of the assignment, children can experiment with language themselves.
Feedback on spontaneous language utterances
Giving feedback can take the form of a short explanation, question, correction or a correct repetition of a particular language utterance. Children make many mistakes when they speak. As a teacher, you can correct this, but you can also repeat the sentence using language correctly. Children will quickly pick up on this and adopt it appropriately.
Thinking out loud
You discuss aloud how you would solve something. With a difficult strategy that you have to use, you can tell step by step how you would solve this. In this way the children come into contact with new strategies.
Language teaching is often seen as a boring subject by both teachers and students. However, it is very important that children enjoy being able to work with language. So let them experiment and compare sentences with each other. Give students examples of striking sentences and also treat language outside of language lessons.