I have just competed my morning swimming laps in the hotel in Singapore and even though it was only just past dawn there were quite a few parents and kids in the pool- all Aussies! They laughed, shouted, squealed, chatted and generally made a lot of noise! It was great and I thought a lot about teaching oral language as I lazily completed my laps! Oral language underpins all our teaching efforts and without it, vocabulary, comprehension and grammatical understanding will not grow.
We need talk- talk, talk and more talk! I read some scary research a few years ago that stated we are talking so much less to our children: fathers often only using 7 words per day to their children, and these are probably words like, “Will you go to bed right now!”
Holidays of course are great times to increase the communication between family members and get to know each other in a relaxed environment. That is why I feel sad when I see parents texting, chatting on their phones and giving children phones and tablets to play with- rather than talking to them.
Talking takes attention, energy, interest and motivation- the motivation to want to know another human being. It takes the ability to establish eye contact, listen carefully, notice emotions, respond appropriately and empathise. It leads to higher degrees of emotional intelligence and cannot be replicated by text messages, face-book contact etc. As human beings we need to talk and listen to each other. I salute those unknown Aussie parents and their kids- their joy, love for each other and their noisy conversations will happily reverberate in my ears all day and remind me to be optimistic. We CAN all learn to talk to each other and to our kids again.
Today- please talk, talk, talk to everyone!