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The age plays important factor in our decision about how and what to master
in literacy. People of different ages have different needs, competences, and cognitive
skills; we might expect children of primary age to acquire much of a foreign language
through play, for example, whereas for adults we can reasonably expect a greater use
of abstract thought.
There are a number of commonly held beliefs about age. Some people say that
children learn languages faster than adults do. They talk to childrenwho appear to pick
up new languages effortlessly. Perhaps this has something to do with the plasticity of
a young brain. Something, after all, must account for the fact that with language,
according to Steven Pinker,’acquisition ..... is guaranteed for children up to the age of
six, is steadily comprimised from then until shortly after puberty, and is rare
thereafter’ (Pinker, 1994: 293), an that this applies not only to the acquisition of the
first language, but also to second or foreign language.


A literature person has the ability to talk, read and write, and the achievement
of early literacy involves learning how to talk , read and write in a competent manner.
There is always the view that spoken language precedes written language
developmentally, socio-historically and culturally.. In each case, the structure of
language must be learned and applied successfully so that mutual communication can
be achieved amongst people, at least, speak the same language. The
interconnectedness of spoken and written language has been explored historically, and
so too should this reltionship be examined developmentally. The development of
written language is linked to the development of spoken language – the former is
parasitic on the latter, it is a second order acquisition. Equally, the development of
written language skills influences spoken language ability, as new langauge structures
and functions are learned for writing which in turn are adopted for speaking.
While spoken language develops naturally, written language development
requires formal instruction. It is usually taught at school. Nonetheless, the learning of
writing depends very much on the prior learning of the spoken language.
The development of reading is also major to the development of writing. The
number of processes involved in reading helps understand the difficulty of acquiring
the alphabetic principle. Printed words gradually become invested with various
linguistics properties, which may be more or less saliant, depending on the stage of
development. These properties are derived from corresponding linguistic codes, which
are the abstract mental representations of different subsystems of language which
cover phonological codes, semantic codes, and syntactic/grammatical codes.

Writing Conventions

Written text has a number of conventions which seperate it out from speaking
and reading. According to Hammer there are issues of letter, word and text formation,
manifasted by handwriting, spelling, and lay out and punctuation ( 2001: p. 255).

Many students whose native language orthography is very different form
English have difficulty forming English letters. Such students should get special
training. This might involve practice in the formation of individual letters such as
Hh ... Bb and to greater extent like Good handwriting is precious.

Although incorrect spelling does not often prevent the understanding of a
written language, it can adversely affect the reader’s judgement. All too often bad
spelling is perceived as a lack of education care.
One of the reasons that spelling in English is difficult is that the corresponence
between the sound of a word and the way it is spelt is not always obvious. A single
(or more correctly, a single phoneme) may have many different spellings (paw, poor,
pore, pour, daughter, Sean), and the same spelling may have many different sounds
(or, word, information, worry, correspond).
An issue that makes spelling difficult is the fact that not all varieties of English
spell the same words in the same way. Which is correct; color or colour, and theater
or theatre? How do we decide between the use of s and z in words like apologise and
customize. What position can we take about those Internet users who seem to enjoy
breaking spelling rules?
To help make things clear, we should get our students to focus on a particular
variety of English (British or American English, for example) as a spelling model to
The following, are more conventions of writing the writer has tried to identify
1. Sentence Level
2. Sentence Parts and Functions
3. Skip to Verbs and Verbal Clauses
4. The Garden of Phrases
5. Rules for Comma Usage
6. Punctuation Marks Besides the Comma
7. Punctuation between Two Independent Clauses
8. Articles and Determiners
9. Noun Forms: Singular and Plurals
10. Pronouns – Antecedent Agreement
11. Placement of Modifiers
12. Subject Verb Agreement
13. Tense Sequence among Verbs, Infinitives and Participles
14. Compound Nouns and Modifiers
15. Capitalization
16. Abrreviations
17. Using Italics and Underlining
18. Parallel Sructures
19. Vocabulary Builders
20. Lexicon
21. Coherence and Transition
22. Paragraph Development
23. Consistency of Tense and Pronoun Reference

Children Learning Writing

By the age of four or five years, most children have started to show an interest
in mark-making an are ready to learn conventional writing (letters, sounds, and
words). Mark-making is the precusor to emergent writing young children develop the
desire to communicate and naturally start to explore how symbols, pictures or pre-
writing shape can convey their ideas to other people. This intention to communicate
continious to develop and , with appropriate support, leads to conventional letters and
words in the form of recognisable ‘writing.’
Observational studies of children’s writing development reveal that their early
writing is usually accompanied by talking and drawing (Bissex, 1980; Dyson, 1988 a:
McLane, 1990). Children usually use their drawing and talk to support their early
exploration and use of print (Dyson, 1988 a). Children may initially regard writing
and drawing as the direct symbol systems in which meaning is embedded (Forreiro
and Toberosky, 1982). Therefore, as children write, they weave their drawing and
speech into their writing to convey meaning (Dyson, 1983; Gundlach, 1982).
In addition to speech and drawing, play characterizes children’s early writing
development (Dyson and Freedman, 1991; Hewman and Roskos, 1997). Clay (1975)
points out that when children explore with written language, they usually play with
graphic features, such as the linearity of the print (i.e. “When playing with the
arrangement of words strings, the teacher spells Book B-O-O-K. Then, he asks them
to write B-O-O-K. Next, to write Look he changes on letter – take away the B and add
an L).

Learning to Write in the Elementary School Years

As children advance in the elementary school, their writing undergo changes.

At this stage, children may just explore and experiment with different forms of
writing which focus on the mastery, competency, an control of writing(Clay, 1975;
Edelsky, 1986), or copy whole text/ stories (Dyson and Freedman, 1991). Gradually
through exploration and experimentation, coupled with writing reading experinces at
home and at school, children elaborate and refine their old forms of writing diversity.
Their awareness of audience deveops accordingly. They tend to write for an
immediate or specific audience such as their parents, relatives or friends. As new
forms evolve from old forms, children apply both to achieve various purposes
(Bissex, 1980).
In addition to changes in form and audience awareness, children’s writing
becomes more coherent and internally cohesive during the school years (Dyson and
Freedman, 1991). Dyson and Freedman (1991) point out, ‘children become less likely
to make reference outside the text themselves (e.g. to begin with “This is”) or to use
pronouns without references (e.g. to use “He is” when who “he” “is” is not clear).’
Another chang appears in children’s global structure of their written text; their text
become longer and more complex over time (Beach, 1996; dyson and Freedman,
Studies on the development and the complexity in children’s writing,
especially their story writing, have shown that before they start school, most of them
already understand the underlying features of storytelling(Applebee, 1978; Martens,
1996). King and Rental (1982) investigated the development of complexity in
children’s story writing during the first two years of schooling. They found that as
children’s oral skill develops, the complexity of ther writing increases accordingly.
With coherence an internal connectedness, the development of writing continuous
through children’s school years into adulthood.

Children and Adult Written Language

At present, writing development remains ill-defined and difficult to assest. It is

confounded with language development more generally, as well as with the
development of content knowledge in particular domains. Indeed, performance on
most of the components of writing achievement varies with topic and type of writing:
vocabulary, syntactic patterns, fluency, organizing structures, and even writing
processes will all vary from one topic or typed writing to another.
Studies indicate that children’s ideas about words are quite different from
adult’s concepts of words. “Because children construct their own knowledge, this
knowledge does not fully developed and is quite often different from that of an adult.
Thus, there are differences between how an adult understands reading and writing and
how a child understands reading and writing,” note McGee and Richgels (1996, p.7)
As children progress into conventional literacy, however, their concept of literacy
gradually change toward the more nventional adult conceptualizations.
In a spelling development study, children and adults showed various
comparison of errors. They showed similar mastery in recognizing single beginning
consonants and short vowel inclusions. Some notable differences between adults and
children were that adults had a much more difficult time marking syllabels in words,
and they showed an equally strong tendency to leave out vowels in their
spellings(Neva M. Niise, 1996; 574). Adults did not do as well as children in their use
of marked endings, primarily because of their tendency to leave off change simple –
en, -er, -ed, and –es endings.
In general, adults did seem to have a better understanding of prefixes and
suffixes, although this does not alter their pattern of spelling aquisition. Also, adults
had a higher rate than children of mastery of certain spelling creatures, including –or,
-er, and –ar endings, -ed and –ing endings, and contractions. Further, adults a
better job of “correctly spelling the syllable junctures of intact words,” which mean
that they perform better than the children at seperating and spelling words such as
‘message’ and ‘bottom’ (p. 574).
Loban (1976) focuses his analyses on syntactic structures in students’ writing
of grade 3 through 12. He found that the attempt to find a developmental sequence of
syntactic structures appropriate for the teaching of school writing eventually failed.
The syntactic structures study covered the use of longer communication units
(sentences), greater elaboration of subject and predicate, more embedding (from
analyses of grammatical transformations), greater use of adjectival dependent
clauses, more use of dependent clauses of all kinds, and greater use of
tentativeness (i.e., supposition, hypotheses, conjecture, and conditional
In vocabulary choices, children prefer to use the high frequency words such as
we were happy ... instead of adults writing we were joyful.... , I don’t like instead
of I dislike.
In writing their sentence, children tends to use direct speech. Punctuation
convention for direct speech is very much needed to present it. While doing that,
children seemed to forget the use of open and closing quotation , for instance, Daisy
say to tom, go to the cow and have its kiss. At the same time, they forgot to use
capitalization to say name tom for Tom, and Go after the use of open quotation.
There was a syntactic error in that sentence, too , the word say for said. Originally
the children wanted to write Daisy said to Tom, “Go to the cow and have its kiss.”
Chilrdren were also rather awkward with the writing of the first speaker. It is
commonly found they write One day my mother and i .... instead of writing One
day my mother and I ......

Furthermore children are still far from the ability to write abstract meaning.
For example, they wrote we were happy when father planned that we went to the zoo.
Whereas adults wrote refreshing our mind, we planned to go to the zoo.
Initial studies demonstrated that sentence combining practice did in fact to the
use of more complex syntax in that way to fulfil the ability to have cohesive and
coherent writing. The technical cues such as joining sentences using although was
unclearly used by children. For instance, he knew although he did not tell the

Some Examples of Children and Adults Written Language

Writer’s original writing

For Children at the age of ten

At The Zoo

Last Saturday we were very happy. My father planned to bring us to the zoo
on Sunday. Then, on Sunday morning my mother woke up very early. She prepared
the food and drinks for the trip. My father checked up his car. We helped them
prepare everything. I helped my mother cook and put the meal into some basins. My
brother helped my father clean his car. My younger brother did not do anything
because he was still too young. He only saw and asked this and that.
At 7.30, we were ready to go. My father told us that the zoo is around 15 km
far from our house. It opens at 9.00. I thought it was very early to go there at that
time. But father told us that it is better to go early because there is so much traffic jam
in this town, Medan. We arrived at the zoo at 8.25. There were no visitors. We were
the first. The name of the zoo is Gembira Loka. My father paid Rp 5000,. for each
ticket. After my father paid the tickets,we entered the zoo.
In the zoo, we saw many animals. There were some elephants. They were very
big. They had yellow trunks. Suddenly my younger brother cried out, “Look. The
elephants are playing in the water. They are bathing.” I answered, “Yes, brother. It is
true.” Then, we saw there were other animals. They were lions, tigers, monkeys and
wow... there were some giraffes and zebras. I had never seen those animals before.
The giraffes were very tall. They were eating some leaves. I did not know the name
of the leaves. My elder brother went nearer to the monkey’s cage. He wanted to give
nuts and bananas to the monkeys. We followed him. We gave the monkeys nuts and
bananas in turn. They were very funny. They chattered and jumped here and there.
We felt amused. After that, we went to see birds. There were not many kinds of birds
there. There were only some parrots, four ostriches, and five peacocks. The parrots
talked all the time. The ostriches had long feet and big body. They were so strange.
And the peacocks, they were very wonderful. They had beautiful feathers.
At 12.00, my mother called us. She told us to sit down under a big tree.
She asked me to take out all the food utensils. I realized it was time to have lunch. We
had our lunch happily. We talked about the animals. We ate all the food up because
we felt very hungry. At 1.30, we went on seeing other animals such as pandas,
chimpanzees, kangoroos, and crocodiles. We went to the souvenier stalls, too. There
were many funny puppets of animals. My brother bought some dinosaurs. And I
bought a panda. At 4.00, we stopped our journey. We returned home. We felt very
tired but happy.

For adults

At The Zoo

Going to the zoo gives pleasure to our family. They will welcome us
cheerfully when we tell them that we are going to visit the zoo. The father and mother
will make some arrangements in accordance to the departure. The mother will get
busy preparing food and drinks for the whole family. Her daughter may help her do
the cooking and keeping the food in picnic pack. The father will get busy preparing
transportation. His son may give a hand to him. The youngest child may not help
anything because of his young age. He is only able to see and deliver questions about
this and that.
Entering the zoo, each member of the family must buy ticket from the counter.
It can be represented by only one person. The cost of the ticket is Rp 5000,. for each
visitor. We can see many kinds of animals in the zoo. Some of them are wild and
protected animals such as elephants, lions, tigers, and crocodiles. There are also rare
and cute animals such as giraffes, zebras and pandas. We can see many activities that
those animals do. The lions are eating some chickens while in the next cage the tigers
just sit down under a tree scratching its head. The monkeys are chattering and
jumping happily when they have some bananas, cucumbers, or nuts from the visitors.
If we go farther, we will meet some birds. Some of them are almost extinct: the
ostriches and the peacocks. There are also some talkative birds that make us feel
amused. These parrots sometimes say very amusing words to make us laugh.
There are some visitors who come to the zoo not to have pleasure for
themselves. Their coming is purposedly to make report for their school assignment.
Some of them go to the wild and protected animals, watching what they do, what they
eat, what their color is, how big they are (of course they are not allowed to come
closer to those animals, they can describe by saying a lion is about 1.3 m long and 1 m
tall). Some will go to birds section. They will notice how those nimals act, identify the
colors of a peacock, and guess how tall the ostriches are. Some other visitors like to
spend their time to to the souvenier stalls, looking or buying kinds of puppets or bags,
or t-shirts available there.
Having satisfied of visiting the zoo, the family and other visitors return home.
Although their body is somewhat tired, their mind is full of joy and thanks.

An Original Child’s Writing

At The Zoo

When Sally holliday, her father brought Sally to zoo. Sally saw many animals
in the zoo. There were have monkey, lion, butterflies, rabbit, crocodiles, cats, dogs,
etc. Sally was very happy. When Sally had the lunch in he zoo, Sally sat in the cat
chair and the table was very beautiful. After that, Sally saw the zookeeper gave the
elephant food. Sally also took picture with the animals. There were also have many
shop that sold souvenier and goods. Sally bought a bag from crocodiles skin for her
mother. Sally tried to feed the animals. When in the zoo, Sally saw many people
visited to the zoo. She also bought zebra doll for her brother. Sally was very happy.
She will bring her brother next week to the zoo an she will tell her friends about at the
zoo in holiday. When afternoon, she went to home and gave the bag to her mother. At
that day, It was the happiest dy for Sally.

(This was written by a V-4 grade elementary school of Sutomo 2. The writer is almost
ten years in next May. She is Elfyra Tannia)

An Original Adult’s Writing

At The Zoo

On last holliday My friends and I went to the zoo. We wante to refresh our
mind and after doing some activities at home, we went there erly in the morning.
Many people were there when we arrived. After parking the car we walked along the
zoo to see many kinds of animals. Some of them are funny like the monkey. It can
jump to take some food that we throw to them The monkey were happy to eat. And
another animals like birds we gave them the food so they sing nicely. In the afternoon,
we returne home, we were very tired but happy because we had so much fun.

(This material was written by a friend whose job is a teacher)