It is our duty as teachers to provide children with a strong foundation, and to instill a sense of confidence in, their ability to use language to communicate. At school, the language environment is made up of influences including the teacher, other children, stories, songs, books, and environmental labels, among other things. The child is capable of absorbing an incredible amount of language during the early years of his or her life, and it is the teacher’s responsibility to provide a wide variety of language experiences that will appeal to children across the spectrum of interests, learning styles, and developmental levels.
The development of children’s language is the most significant aim of the work in the language area of the classroom, and for this reason, a good deal more conversation is incorporated in these types of lessons than in any other curriculum area. As a result, any of the language lessons involving a teacher and a child, or a teacher and a group of children, are designed to introduce and reinforce positive social interactions and language for the children.
One example of how language is explored on a group level with primary students is the “I Spy” game. During this activity, a teacher brings a small group of children to a rug, along with a basket of objects, and she helps the children begin to listen for the initial sounds in words. The children are able to do work with their friends, but are simultaneously learning the importance of waiting their turn, and of being polite to their peers.
At the elementary level, language continues to be explored and built upon, with more in-depth studies of grammar, spelling, word roots and instruction in penmanship. Verbal and written language are continually encouraged and developed, often in the form of journals, book reports and presentations to the class.