Linguists and the teaching of english
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Linguists and the Teaching of English. University of Newcastle Friday 1 September 2006 Mick Connell School Improvement Adviser – English & Arts Rotherham LA QCA Principal Scrutineer - English. Key Stage 1 – Status and Practice of Phonics Teaching.

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Linguists and the teaching of english

Linguists and the Teaching of English

University of Newcastle

Friday 1 September 2006

Mick Connell

School Improvement Adviser – English & Arts

Rotherham LA

QCA Principal Scrutineer - English

Key stage 1 status and practice of phonics teaching

Key Stage 1 – Status and Practice of Phonics Teaching

  • The initial teaching of reading: the place of phonics teaching and the child’s use of phonic strategies in successful, early reading

  • Government ‘direction’ on use of synthetic phonics. Research background is famously disputed

  • Most infant teachers are practical agnostics. They know that children differ. Weary with prescriptive, ‘one size fits all’ approaches – but notoriously compliant

Key stage 2 and 3 grammar and writing development

Key Stage 2 and 3: Grammar and Writing Development

  • Issue: The place of grammar teaching and pupils’ knowledge of grammar in writing development.

  • Confusing messages. Where and when were these written?

  • i) ‘ All pupils have extensive grammatical knowledge…Teaching which focuses on grammar helps to make this knowledge explicit, extend children’s range and develop more confident and versatile language use.’

  • ii) ‘Grammar is means of enabling pupils to devote more control and choice in their use of language.’

  • iii) ‘ The teaching of the principles underlying and informing word order or syntax has virtually no impact on writing quality or accuracy.’


    i) ‘Grammar for Writing’ NLS 2000

    ii) Cox Report 1989

    Iii) Ofsted ‘English 2000-5 A Review of Inspection Evidence’ para 73

Key stage 2 and 3 the national strategy

Key Stage 2 and 3: The National Strategy

  • The National Literacy Strategy and The Framework of Teaching Objectives have impacted on schools and teaching:

  • Organisation of and thinking about the content of English: word, sentence, text levels

  • Introduction of a daily lesson of literacy in primary schools

  • Establishment of the orthodox 4-part lesson: starter, whole class teaching, guided/independent work, plenary

  • Teaching to objectives – ‘what to teach over the course of the year’ (Framework for Teaching English: Years 7,8 and 9)

  • Refocusing English from ‘content’ to ‘competences’

Teaching objectives

Teaching Objectives

  • The greatest challenge to teachers’ knowledge and practice has been at sentence level.

  • Sentence Level Objectives for writing are organised in four groups:

  • Sentence Construction and Punctuation

  • Paragraphing and Cohesion

  • Stylistics Conventions of Non-Fiction

  • Standard English and Language Variation

Sentence level teaching objectives year 7 writing

Sentence Level: Teaching Objectives – Year 7 Writing

  • Sentence construction and punctuation

  • ‘Pupils should be taught to extend their use and control of complex sentences by:

    a) recognising and using subordinate clauses;

    b) exploring the functions of subordinate clauses, e.g. relative clauses such as ‘which I bought’ or adverbial clauses such as ‘having finished his lunch’

    c) deploying subordinate clauses in a variety of positions within the sentence.’ (p22)

Challenge of teaching to the framework of objectives

Challenge of Teaching to the Framework of Objectives

  • Teacher knowledge and confidence

  • Interesting and engaging pupils

  • Ensuring that new learning is transferred and applied in pupils’ own writing

  • Converting ‘features’ of texts into teaching objectives

  • Some objectives describe knowledge, some strategies and others are features of written texts

  • Impact of ‘applied’ genre theory: text types, writing frames

  • Myth of a new content of English –’Grammar for Writing’ has a glossary of terms that stretches to 40 pages.

Key stage 3 and 4 two recent areas of development

Key Stage 3 and 4: Two Recent Areas of Development

  • Key Stage 3: Assessing Pupil Progress (APP)

  • Key Stage 4: GCSE English: Functional English and Flexibility

App assessing pupil progress

APP – Assessing Pupil Progress

  • Developed by QCA. Implemented by National Strategy.

  • Background

    - Work on Assessment for Learning

    - Key Stage test development and marking

    - National Literacy Strategy/NC Programmes of Study

  • Aims to provide a single, consistent and diagnostic assessment framework for assessing reading and writing at Key Stage 3 (NC Levels 306)

  • The guidance is based on the Assessment Focuses and describe progression markers in each AF (assessment strand) in reading and writing

App guidance sentence level year 7

APP – Guidance – Sentence Level – Year 7

  • Example

  • AF5 – vary sentences for clarity, purpose and effect

    Across a range of writing:

  • Level 3* and, but, so are the most common connectives

  • Level 4 * use some subordinating connectives, e.g. if, when, because

  • Level 5 * wider range of connectives used to clarify relationship between ideas, e.g. although, on the other hand, meanwhile

  • Level 6* confident use of a range of sentence features to clarify or emphasise meaning, e.g. fronted adverbials (‘Reluctantly, he ...’ , Five days later, it …’, complex noun or prepositional phrases

Gcse developments

GCSE Developments

  • 2005 QCA publish results of English 21 consultation. (Competence, Creative, Critical and Cultural strands identified)

  • Government concern about coursework and ‘functional literacy’

  • Schools and teachers concerned that English courses are too literary and unattractive to boys and lower ability pupils

Edexcel pilot english specification

Edexcel Pilot English Specification

  • Has three core or functional literacy units – speaking/listening, reading, writing – required for award of GCSE English

  • Optional Units/Modules:

    - Two Literature modules

    - 3 new modules: Spoken English Studies, Language of Digital Communication, Media

Spoken english studies

Spoken English Studies

  • Task 1 – Written analysis of Spontaneous Spoken English

  • Stage 1 – maintain written log to include examples from:

    - Here and Now

    - Over Space

    - Over Time

    ( Candidates collect examples or use archive sources, including the Edexcel Selection/Corpus of Spoken English)

  • Stage 2 – Select and transcribe three, 30 seconds-2 minute examples – one for each speech context

  • Stage 3 – Analyse the data.

  • locate/comment on features of spontaneous speech

  • show contrasts with scripted spoken language

  • Show how relationships affects language choice

  • Comment on any of: gender, class, age, region

  • Identify type and purpose(s) of utterances

  • * Task 2 - Scripting

How can linguists help

How Can Linguists Help?

  • Links/examples/evidence about relationship between pupils’ explicit grammatical

    knowledge and writing development,

  • Help clarify what constitutes progression in writing,

  • Help exemplify and evaluate active, investigative approaches to learning about language in primary school,

  • Help enable and support use of spoken language corpuses by teachers/students

  • Shed light on how linguistic knowledge/approaches can improve reading skills,

  • Attract more teachers to develop their own knowledge about language,

  • Contribute to the continuing debates:

    - What should teachers know about language/linguistics to enrich their teaching in the various phases?

    - What aspects of language/linguistic knowledge or approaches should be taught to assist progress in literacy and English?

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