Research or Rhetoric? Deconstructing the Norms of Young Language Learning

Abstract

The legacy of being a native speaker of English is that we have very little exposure to the spoken form of other languages. Our struggle to promote language learning in primary school, despite low teacher confidence, tends to rely on subject knowledge learned in secondary school, which focuses on literacy skills of reading and writing. Promoting a 'watered down' version of this secondary practice for primary schools may be more than merely ineffectual. Young learners' aptitudes are geared for the phonology of a language, rather than its literacy. Because the learning of reading skills has been likened to brainwashing, in that it is automatic and cannot be undone, there is a risk of using the phonics system of the first language, which results in poor pronunciation. This then threatens comprehension. The promotion of alternative literacies to support the learning of a modern language can enable the representation of spoken language, but also importantly it permits learners to manipulate learned language to create new sentences and meanings. Thus two important functions, similar to those of written text, may be achieved but without threatening the learner's deciphering of the spoken form. Good language role-models can be provided through multimedia clips and recordings. However, pupils' learning of language alongside signed representations, or 'alternative codes' requires opportunities for them to manipulate the language into new meanings and sentences. This paper discusses the important conversion of signed mental representations of language into paper-based representations, as an alternative to written text.



Author Information
Magdalen Phillips, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2016
Stream: Innovative language teaching and learning methodologies

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