Opening the wardrobe of voices: standard English and language variation at key stage 2
I can still remember the baffled amusement with which my first teaching group heard me call them my ‘class’, ask them not to go on the ‘grass’ at break time and tell them that our topic was going to be ‘castles’. They were pupils in a middle school in the south of England. I was a new teacher born and educated, a firstgeneration grammar school boy, in West Yorkshire. University and training in the south had modified my Yorkshire accent, but the tell-tale vowel sounds still resounded in these words and others such as ‘mud’, ‘blood’ and ‘bath’! Embarrassment and amusement soon turned to fascination with the phenomenon of language variety for all of us. This chapter is about ways that I have devised of sharing that continuing fascination with the diversity of language with key stage 2 children, in the light of national developments in this area of the English curriculum over the past 20 years. I begin by briefly reviewing some of these developments before moving on to describe and evaluate a particular language project I carried out with year 5 children.