Language for learning in early childhood

This is the title of a paper by Claire Painter, published in Language, Knowledge and Pedagogy, ed. Christie and Martin, 2007, Continuum.

The author tape-recorded interactions between herself and her two children, one up to the age of thirty months, the other from thirty months to five years. These recordings were transcribed and studied to throw light on how very young children learn language. The work is modeled on Halliday’s recording and analyzing of his own son’s language development*.

Painter is less concerned than Halliday to fit the child-parent utterances into his three-fold model of language (ideational, interpersonal, textual). Her work is more exploratory but she elicits some persuasive categories of the child-parent interactions: Continue reading

Unpacking English Literature

I was lucky enough to spend most of my teaching career sharing the enjoyment of classical literature with pupils and students. Going to a grammar school in the forties had opened “the canon” to me and I felt privileged to continue the tradition by introducing the great works of English literature to the next generation. My last experience of literature teaching was sitting in deckchairs in the garden of a Cambridge college sharing the experience of English poetry with teachers from the Soviet Union, who were brought up in the same “Cultural heritage” tradition. It was so enjoyable that it felt superfluous to be paid for it.

However, I had long felt uncomfortable with the lack of theoretical structure underpinning the teaching of “English”, not least the total separation of English language from English literature. When I discovered Stylistics in the seventies, I seized eagerly on this link between the two. (Stylistics is the linguistic examination of literary texts.) Continue reading