Family Activities: What is language experience?
Language experience is a process for reading and writing which involves the ideas and language of the child and his/her own experiences. Language experience works in a variety of ways. Children build language experiences through:
As a parent or tutor, you must help your child experience a variety of events, either directly or through reading. In addition to talking about a real experience such as a trip to the beach, the zoo, the circus, or Granny´s house, students can talk about the rich assortment of experiences revealed in the newspaper.
Reading teacher Pat Langlotz talks to parents about helping young children learn to recognize letters of the alphabet during a workshop at New Smyrna Beach Middle School, April 21, 2005. (Photo: N-J/Lynn Bulmahn)
Newspaper articles and comic strips provide some of the most exciting and useful experiences for children which you, as a loving parent or teacher, can make available. You begin by selecting the article or comic and reading it aloud to the child. Try to make a comfortable spot for this reading; depending on age, the child can be on your lap or beside you. There should be some physical contact. The article should be based on interests you know or imagine that the child has, such as animals, strange weather, famous people, food, toys, etc.
Talking about their experiences...
As you read a story or a newspaper article or a comic strip to your child, stop occasionally and ask such questions as: “What do you think will happen next?” or “How do you think this person felt?” or “What do you think you might do now if you were in the story?”
After you have finished the reading and discussing, ask some probing questions which have no right or wrong answers, such as: “Did something like that ever happen to you or to anyone you know?” or “How did this make you feel?” or “Did you like the story? Why or why not?”
Writing about their experiences...
Now you are ready to have the child write their story about the newspaper article or first hand experiences for NIE. Select lined paper appropriate for the age and grade level of your child. If you have to use standard lined notebook paper, be sure to write on every other line.
At first you will be your child´s secretary, recording their ideas, stories, poems, etc. This is essential because we do not want the child to be bogged down in spelling or grammar or punctuation or any of the grammatical or mechanical demands which stifle creativity. We want the child to have opportunities for free expression at the beginning of this process; later we can have the students do their own writing, freehand or on the computer. Even later we will begin to make suggestions and corrections to assist the child in spelling and grammar. But not at the beginning!
As secretary to your child, you will need to print what the child dictates, saying it as you write. It is important for you to use correct manuscript form for this writing. Before the story gets too long, be sure to reread it from the beginning and to ask your child to read it aloud also.
When you have finished, you may want your child to illustrate the story. They can, of course, use the photo or illustration in the newspaper to accompany the story.
You can help your child practice skills taught in school and learn that newspapers are a source of life-long learning. Parents are busy people, and realizing that, these materials are designed to aid you in helping your child learn to use the newspaper. The following suggestions from educators Ira Gordon and Stevie Hoffman should help you guide and discuss the news with your children.
Modified from Ira Gordon´s DESIRABLE TEACHING BEHAVIORS: Stevie Hoffman, University of Missouri, Columbia.