Description of setting: This observation took place in a registered community pre-school, the school consists of two rooms, one main classroom with the capacity to accommodate 22 children and one smaller that accommodates 8 children, the smaller of the two rooms has a sand tray, a water play station, a large double sided blackboard and an art station which is used for working with play dough and free style art. The main large room has free play toys, a library and story corner, a home corner and table and chairs for children to sit at. The preschool has a play based curriculum under the AISTEAR framework. Immediate context: This observation took place in the main classroom of the playschool TC is seated at a table colouring in a picture of a spaceship and the moon there is one other child at the table she is also colouring in.
The observation took place at 10.30 in the morning during free play, it was a really bad day outside it was snowing and there was thunder and lightning. Brief description of the child observed: TC is a male aged four years and 5 months, he attends playschool five days per week, TC has two older sisters aged 7 and 10 and two older brothers ages 14 and 18, TC is a very active, talkative child. Aim of observation: the aim of this observation is to examine TC for a period of fifteen minutes to assess his language development. Rationale: It is important to observe children in order to plan developmentally appropriate activities for them, to ensure they are meeting the appropriate developmental milestones for their age. Method: pre-coded
The aim of this observation was to observe and record the language of TC, a 4 year and five month old boy for 15 minutes while he was sitting colouring a picture in order to gain a better understanding of his language development. I feel that I achieved this aim very well and that TCs language development appears to be within the normal range for his age. Language development includes a child’s non-verbal and verbal communication: expressive language, understanding of spoken language, vocabulary acquisition and understanding of the rules of language. (Donohoe & Gaynor p135) for the purpose of this observation I concentrated on TC’s verbal communications. In most cases TCs word pronunciation is accurate. He does make a few errors for example he says “lello” instead of “yellow” and “ahind” instead of behind. Other words used like “aye” instead of “yes” are more as a result of local dialect rather than an inability to pronounce or use words properly.
This is usual for his stage of development. While children between the ages of four and five pronounce most words correctly, they “may show some immature sound substitutions” (flood 2010) “Children by and large master syntax, i.e. word order in sentences by the age of four (flood 2010) in this case Tc has managed to master syntax in that he makes only one syntactic error but quickly corrects himself in saying “red I need, now I need red” all of his other sentences are all syntactically correct. The American psychologist Jerome Bruner (1915- ) wikipedia stresses the importance of the child’s environment in language development.
He believes that adults and more able peers in a childs life provide what he calls a language acquisition support system (LASS) motherese, recasting, expanding and labelling all form part of this system (flood 2010) there are samples of each of these strategies throughout this observation firstly when they’re talking about colours, the adult encourages TC to expand on what is being said , they are talking about some colours in his picture, the adult tells TC that her favourite colour is purple and asks him his, when he replies blue she asks him why? he says “ I like Chelsea” his favourite football team, also when the conversation arises about birthdays the adult continues to ask multiple questions about ages, dates and family to encourage the conversation to continue, these are both samples of expanding.
The second strategy evident in the observation is recasting for example, TC says” Yeah, my S seventeen, but now he eighteen” the adult tidies up what TC said in a grammatically correct way by saying ”S was seventeen but now he is eighteen”. Finally the third strategy is evident when TC says” this is hair cutter things” and the adult tells him they’re scissors; this is an example of labelling these strategies are automatically used by adults to help with children’s language development.
It appears evident from this conversation that TC has good reasoning and understanding of his world around him, e.g. knowing that his mammy turns the TV off when there is thunder, the fact that TC has much older siblings and that he appears to be included in their conversations and general family life could factor into this. In summary TC’s language development in terms of pronunciation, syntax and semantics seems to be within the normal range for his age, He can carry on a conversation and has good reasoning and understanding of words and the world around him.
Personal learning gained
I learned a great deal more about children’s language development, I now have a better understanding of the structure of language development I learned more about Jerome Bruner’s views on a child’s language development and how more able peers in a child’s life can provide what he calls a language acquisition support system and how motherese, recasting, expanding and labelling all form part of this system. I have shown samples of this in my evaluation. I have learned how difficult it is to accurately record speech especially in a classroom setting where there is so much noise and other activities going on. I believe in order to fulfil a more accurate report that an audio recording with transcription is advisable. Flood, E (2010) child development for students in Ireland.
Dublin: Gill & Macmillan Donohoe & gaynor Education and care in the early years (4th edn) Dublin: Gill & Macmillan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_development http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome_Bruner
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