Learning to Use Language and Issues of Profound Importance to Teachers

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Topic: “Language defined: Learning to use language and issues of profound importance to teachers” Language, roughly, can be defined as communicating with others. Language is more than speech and writing, it is the making and sharing of meaning with ourselves and others (Emmitt and Pollock, 1997, p.19). For that meaning to be shared the language signs and symbols are selected and used according to rules. These rules have been developed and agreed upon by the language users and must be learned by new language users (Emmitt and Pollock, 1997, p.11). The rules of language come from our every day lives, and from the environment in which we live. I will attempt to explain further how I learned language using examples of primary discourse, secondary discourse and literacy. Our first contact with language is our primary discourse. Of the three theories of how language is learned according to Lightbown & Spada (1993, pp.23-30), I would like to consider the third, which is the interactionist theory. Interactionist theory states that language develops as a result of the environment in which children live and their interactions with others. For example I was one of five children brought up in a small country town in a Catholic family. My father was a wharfie and my mother a house wife - she never ever went out to work. Much of my childhood was spent with cousins on their farm, or at home with my brother and sisters. We had very few books in our house and no television. We played in the paddocks, climbed trees, swung on rope swings, played in the creek, caught tadpoles in the swamp, played cops and robbers, and cowboys and Indians. I did not go to playgroup nor did I go to pre-school. Mum decided I did not need them because I had enough to keep me occupied. So most of my early language learning was done with close family. Mum had the power of control over what I learnt up
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