I have been working with children for quite some time and I have always wondered why some children were coming to school being able to communicate better than others. With that being an interest of mine, I chose the article Ways of Talking: Patterns of Parent-Child Discourse and the Implications for Classroom Learning (Roseanne L. Flores, Educational Horizons 77 no1 25-9 Fall ’98). The purpose of this article was to examine parent-child talk within two groups of parents from the New York City area.
The questions posed for this study were 1) Does home environment i.e, culture or socioeconomic status, lead to different types of discourse practices, and 2) Does one type of discourse practice parallel classroom discourse better, and if so, what are the implications for education (Flores, 1998)?
The research was conducted at two sites in New York City. A Bronx city public school servicing kindergarten children from a low socioeconomic status composed primarily of Latino and African-American children, and an elementary school servicing gifted children ranging from nursery school to eighth grade from a diverse economic and ethnic background.
There were a total of fourteen children and their parents who participated in the study. Seven children and their parents were from the public school and seven from the gifted school. Each parent and child set were given a tape recorder and were asked to record two mealtime conversations with their child; one conversation from the weekend and one during the week. The purpose of the recordings was to examine how parents and their children talk to each other in everyday contexts.
The parents were able to select the meal they wanted to record, the location of the tape recorder, and the time the taping began and ended. The dialogue practices engaged in by parents and children from this study were dramatically different between the groups (Flores, 1998). The results/answers to the questions are as follows: 1. Does home environment i. e, culture or socioeconomic status, lead to different types of discourse practices? -The parent-child pair from the gifted program engaged in more parent-initiated, child response, parent-evaluation dialogues than did the children selected from the non-gifted program.
Children from the gifted program initiated more questions and had parents who responded to their questions by probing for additional information than did the children from the non-gifted program (Flores, 1998). The conversations from the students in the gifted program were more open-ended and mirrored classroom dialogue practices. The conversations from the students in the non-gifted program were more close-ended, yes-no-style dialogues (Flores, 1998). 2. Does one type of discourse practice parallel classroom talk more than other forms?
– The information from the data indicated that there were different styles of talking that children and parents engage in and that in fact one style reflected classroom dialogue practice better. The results showed the children from the gifted program engaged more in patterns of dialogue with their parents that were reflective of teacher talk. Parents replicated teacher talk at home by evaluating and pushing children to think and they engaged in more topic-centered talk mimicking what teachers do in the classrooms.
While the conversations with the parents and students from the non-gifted program were more yes-no interactions and closed ended discussions (Flores, 1998). In conclusion, parents and children from different social and economic backgrounds clearly engage in different dialogue practices. Certain styles of discourse mirror classroom practices more than others (Flores, 1998). The assumption made concerning young children’s ability to enter into school during their formative years and to engage in language as a means to communication is a faulty one.
The research demonstrated the communication styles are often quite different even though the basic prerequisites for communication have been met (Flores, 1998). It is important to avoid the misapprehension that the children and their parents from the non-gifted programs are incapable of engaging in teacher-type talk. They may not talk in this way because it does not have the same meanings in their community (Flores, 1998). In order for students to engage in the conversations that are going on in the schools on a level where they understand, parents will have to learn to speak the language and participate in the school more.
Teachers will have to work hard in convincing parents the importance of learning and functioning within the school culture so they will instill that in their children. The article clearly states that parents and their children should not stop talking in their “home-language” they just have to learn the art of “code-switching”, being able to know when to use certain dialogue. References Flores, R. L. (1998). Ways of Talking: Patterns of Parent- Child Discourse and the Implications for Classroom Learning. Educational Horizons 77 no1 25-9 ———————– 5
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