chapter  2
22 Pages

LET THEM TALK - An Alternative Approach to Language Development in the Infant School

It is current practice for most teachers to address the business of language development in schools as quasi-linguists, making heavy use of a deficit modeL That is to say children, especially young children are assumed to be 'under-developed' in their use of language and 'mistakes' or 'errors' in grammar and expression are seen as a constant documentation of their childlike inadequacy. The model is adopted not through perversity on the part of teachers but simply because it has become the established approach peddled by academics and professionals alike. It has been routinised as the accepted takenfor-granted way educationalists at whatever level of involvement in the teaching of young children evaluate pupils' ability to use language. We wish to propose an alternative or at least an additional approach to the evaluation of pupils' use of language which would broaden the scope for development. This broadening could only be beneficial because it involves a consideration of children as culturally worthy individuals in their own right. The culture of childhood is an aspect of a pupil's life which is routinely undervalued in a teacher's general judgemental approach to classroom performances, largely because none of us know very much about it.