Business Talk – this is when we use more everyday instructional and informational kinds of vocabulary and sentence structures.
Play Talk/Rich Talk – this is more conversational, informal and descriptive.
Small Talk – this is everyday chatter or conversations, informal and often less descriptive and more factual.
Parentese – this research has shown is how babies prefer you to talk to them using regular words (normal adult vocabulary) in a slightly higher pitched and more sing-song way.
It is important that a child is exposed to the different types of talk as it helps them to build their vocabulary (word awareness – receptive & expressive language) this is vital if they are to continue to develop good communication skills.
The Difference Between Receptive and Expressive Language
Receptive language is how we take in and understand language; it is what we hear, see and read. This also includes body language and environmental clues. All these elements help us to interpret a situation and give it its meaning, so that we can understand what is being communicated. We do not need to be able to produce language to receive and understand it, so infants and toddlers understand far more than they can express (expressive language).
Expressive language is our ability to put our thoughts, needs and wants into words and sentences in a way that makes sense and is grammatically correct. A baby’s expressive language to begin with is based on cries and gestures and then moves to sound making, gestures and body language signals. We use this expressive language when we speak and write. When babies and toddlers move to speaking words, they have a limited vocabulary which is why they can get frustrated when we do not understand them.
Good word awareness (receptive and expressive language) is a key pre- phonics skill.
This week we will look at turn taking in conversation a skill children need to learn to take part in meaningful interaction with others. These interactions are a vital part of children’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual growth and wellbeing.
Children need to learn that in conversation they need to take turns listening and speaking.
This is more complex process than we often give it credit for as often we, especially in our busy lives, can be guilty of only listening to reply rather than listening to understand.
Children need to learn when to talk and when to listen; for this to happen they need to do the following:
Actively Listen to the other person. This means:
Concentrate on the words being said, by blocking out other environmental noises and voices.
For most children and adults this also means looking at the person, watching their facial expression and body language.
Listening for the verbal cues and/or changes in the tone of voice that signifies that the person has finished speaking.
Recognising that it is either your turn to respond by formulating a reply or not.
Formulate a Response. This means:
Extracting meaning – taking understanding from the words that have been spoken.
Mentally searching for words to compile a grammatically correct set of sentences.
In young children this can take time, not because they do not have the answer, because they just take longer to recall and formulate their responses. This is due to the constant acquisition of new language and understanding of the grammatical conventions that need to be applied.
Communicate Response. This means
Speaking clearly, pronouncing words correctly in coherent sentences.
Using socially appropriate facial expressions and body language to accompany the response.
Using the appropriate verbal cues and/or changes in the tone of voice that allow the other person to understand it is now their turn.
Wait. This means giving time for the other person to formulate their response.
Actively Listen to the other person.
Learning these skills takes time and needs to be taught as well as modelled by those around the children. It begins very early on for instance, when we talk to a baby, as if expecting an answer. As a baby starts to make cooing and babbling sounds, they begin to respond to you in those gaps, their first conversations.
Something that is worth remembering:
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” (Dalai Lama)
It is not just the key to literacy success but an essential social communication skill.
Sadly, with the COVID-19 situation, schools are reporting ever increasing concerns over the decline in young children’s speaking and listening skills. So, over the next 14 weeks, we are looking again at the different developmental elements of speaking and listening; providing practical games and activities to help build a child’s skills.
Week 1. Conversational Turn Taking Skills
Week 2. Different Types of Talk
Week 3. The Importance of Small Talk
Week 4. How to Encourage Your Child to Keep Talking
Week 5. What is Listening?
Week 6. Games to Develop Listening Skills – Sound Screen Games
Week 7. Games to Develop Listening Skills – Sound Scanning Games
Week 8. Games to develop Listening Skills – Music Fun
Week 9. Games to develop Listening Skills – Phonemic Awareness
Week 10. Word Awareness
Week 11. Activities to Develop Talking & Language Skills
Week 12. Activities to Develop Rhyme & Alliteration
Week 13. Activities to Develop Syllable Awareness
Week 14. Activities to Develop Directional and Positional Language
Because the English language is so rich and diverse it is very difficult to create a phonics system that caters for all. Every region that speaks the English language has its own accent which means there are always variations in the way that a word is pronounced.
Across England we all spell words the same but we certainly do not say them all the same, even though we all use the same 44 sounds. In the English language the 44 sounds can be represented by over 280 letter combinations.
So, accents have arisen from regions applying different phonemes (sounds) to graphemes (letters) when they pronounce words. The regions still use the same sounds and letters, they just associate them differently.
For example, in the South of England the letter ‘a’ can be pronounced as the ‘long ’R’ controlled’ vowel sound /ar,(ɑː)/ in words such as ‘grass’ and ‘bath’ whereas in the North of England it will be pronounced as the ‘short’ vowel /a,(æ)/ sound in these two words.
Both pronunciations are correct, which can make teaching phonics a little tricky; the key is to teach the sound to letter relationships which best suit the children being taught in relation to their regional accent. It is important to remember that children’s knowledge of the sounds that make words is based on how you speak to them naturally and not a strict standardized set of sounds.
However, for general educational and learning purposes the English language’s phonics system has been standardized, this is known as the ‘Received Pronounced’ (RP) English, and is used in comprehensive English dictionaries and translation dictionaries. The RP is based on a southern accent sound to letter relationship basis.