You are on page 1of 7

ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSEWORK AIM My aim in this investigation is to observe the evolution of childrens (Years 1, 5 and 6) descriptive writing

and observe whether their vocabulary and grammar changes as they age. HYPOTHESIS I hypothesise that as the children grow older their ability to describe will become more advanced, and more fluent. I predict that the children in Year 1 (4-5 years) will use simplistic words and focus on things such as colours and basic shapes, therefore primarily focusing on aesthetics, whilst mostly omitting verbs and adverbs and complex adjectives. However, I predict that those children in Years 5 and 6 (10-12 years) will begin to use verbs more often and use more complex adjectives, although I predict the use of adverbs will still be limited. Also, as the image the children will describe will contain objects they will never have seen before, I predict that the children in Years 5 and 6 will compare said objects to similar real-world objects, whereas the Year 1 children will not have developed the insight to make such comparisons. METHODOLOGY To obtain my data I will attend classes in a primary school, specifically Years 1 and 5 and 6. I will then present the children with an image, which I shall create myself and which will contain objects that are entirely original, therefore being new and unknown to the children, and ask them to describe the image with a written piece of descriptive text. I will choose the higher ability children in each class as a control variable. Also, to avoid observers paradox a teacher will be present. I will then collect these texts, analyse them and compare and contrast them to discover any advancements in their use of language. ANALYSIS No. of Nouns 7 8 8 8 13 15 16 16 9 No. of Verbs 0 0 0 1 1 5 5 8 7 No. of Adjectives 0 1 5 2 4 8 10 0 0 No. of Adverbs 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 2

Year 1-A Year 1-B Year 1-C Year 5-A Year 5-B Year 5-C Year 6-A Year 6-B Year 6-C

As is evident from the table above, the number of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs rises relative to the age of the child, with a few exceptions (the most obvious being the absence of adjectives used by 6-B and 6-C). The table shows that the type of word most commonly used is the noun. This makes sense, as the first words learnt by children are generally nouns, specifically concrete nouns, and nouns are essential in descriptive writing. For example, all of the nouns used by the Year 1 children were concrete nouns (e.g. flowers, water, sky etc.) The way in which the children in Year 1 use these nouns contains many examples of overextension. For example child 1-A uses the words camel and elephant to describe the creature on the image that has camel and elephant-like characteristics. Child 1-C does the same thing; only he uses the word dinosaurs to describe the creatures. Both of these instances are examples of overextension, with the lexical differences occurring due to each childs individual perception of the image. Overextension is a common problem with children of this age, as their experience of language is limited, and as such they generalise terms they already know and use them to apply to objects or concepts they are unaware of. As I predicted in my hypothesis, child 1-B has focused on some basic shapes, specifically triangle, circle and square. This is probably because they lack the ability to describe the creatures with a high level of detail, due to the stage of their linguistic development, and so can only describe their basic form. The use of adjectives to expand on these nouns is very limited. Child 1-B only uses a single adjective, and it is a rather simple and obvious one (dark). Child 1-C uses five adjectives, however 3 of these are numbers used to describe the quantity of specific objects within the pictures rather than any sort of detail on the objects description and as numbers are one of the earliest concepts a child develops as they age this is not as relevant as the other words used, specifically wiggly and yellow. Yellow, being a colour, is again another early concept formed during the language acquisition development and wiggly is a very child-like expression. When the children reach the age of 10-11 years their writing styles change dramatically, specifically their use of descriptive language and their grammar. Whereas those children in Year 1 were unable to form full sentences, the Year 5 pupils demonstrate the ability to construct sentences, albeit not all the time and without the proper grammar. For example, Child 5-B writes stairs going to a plant; in this sentence the child omits there are TRANSCRIPTS Year 1-A camel flys bees/wasps elephant flowers water stairs Year 1-B

triangle circle square bush leafs the sky water dark picture Year 1-C birds tree 2x dinosaurs two mirrors one pond two hills wiggly lines in the sky yellow sky Year 5-A Shape fairs, eyes are so quotte the nose is qutte asw as well. Sun set. decaration . flowers. Elaphant. dinasors. hills Year 5-B Elephant with one fo leg on the front and back. Shaped birds. Stairs going to a plant. A body of a rocking horse, and with an ell ell elephant ha head and a small trunk. Weird photograph. Year 5-C Shape fairys: cute eyes, small nose and really wierd and cute. Sun set plant hills There are dinosorse also flowers. The other things I see are flowers but have a square middle and circuls as pettles ad the last thig thing I see are is a small lake. The shape They all look shocked.

Year 6-A I see square violet bird with a triangular yellow bird and cicular red bird. I see square flowers with circles pettles I see two part camel part elephant part horse creature Pyramid with cherries Reminds me to be creative The pink creature looks like an ice cream cone Year 6-B I saw see A flower flower that has a mirror in the middle I see a cats mouth and different shapes that look like a fly I see a animal that has a horse body and a elphant face There is an animal that looks like a ice cream It reminds me to be creative. It to I can see a set of stairs with cherrys ontop Year 6-C I see lots of wuld pace fings lots of sape It makes me carrither It looks like an ice cream cameer It looks lik a hous and kamll It looks fun I see satt with pon.

LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN CHILDREN Age of Child Typical Language Development 6 Months Vocalization with intonation Responds to his name Responds to human voices without visual cues by turning his head and eyes Responds appropriately to friendly and angry tones Uses one or more words with meaning (this may be a fragment of a word) Understands simple instructions, especially if vocal or physical cues are given Practices inflection Is aware of the social value of speech Has vocabulary of approximately 5-20 words Vocabulary made up chiefly of nouns Some echolalia (repeating a word or phrase over and over)

12 Months

18 Months

24 Months

36 Months

48 Months

Much jargon with emotional content Is able to follow simple commands Can name a number of objects common to his surroundings Is able to use at least two prepositions, usually chosen from the following: in, on, under Combines words into a short sentence-largely noun-verb combinations (mean) length of sentences is given as 1.2 words Approximately 2/3 of what child says should be intelligible Vocabulary of approximately 150-300 words Rhythm and fluency often poor Volume and pitch of voice not yet well-controlled Can use two pronouns correctly: I, me, you, although me and I are often confused My and mine are beginning to emerge Responds to such commands as "show me your eyes (nose, mouth, hair)" Use pronouns I, you, me correctly Is using some plurals and past tenses Knows at least three prepositions, usually in, on, under Knows chief parts of body and should be able to indicate these if not name Handles three word sentences easily Has in the neighborhood of 900-1000 words About 90% of what child says should be intelligible Verbs begin to predominate Understands most simple questions dealing with his environment and activities Relates his experiences so that they can be followed with reason Able to reason out such questions as "what must you do when you are sleepy, hungry, cool, or thirsty?" Should be able to give his sex, name, age Should not be expected to answer all questions even though he understands what is expected Knows names of familiar animals Can use at least four prepositions or can demonstrate his understanding of their meaning when given commands Names common objects in picture books or magazines Knows one or more colors Can repeat 4 digits when they are given slowly Can usually repeat words of four syllables Demonstrates understanding of over and under Has most vowels and diphthongs and the consonants p, b, m, w, n well established Often indulges in make-believe Extensive verbalization as he carries out activities Understands such concepts as longer, larger, when a contrast is presented

60 Months

6 Years

7 Years

8 Years

Readily follows simple commands even thought the stimulus objects are not in sight Much repetition of words, phrases, syllables, and even sounds Can use many descriptive words spontaneously-both adjectives and adverbs Knows common opposites: big-little, hard-soft, heave-light, etc Has number concepts of 4 or more Can count to ten Speech should be completely intelligible, in spite of articulation problems Should have all vowels and the consonants, m,p,b,h,w,k,g,t,d,n,ng,y (yellow) Should be able to repeat sentences as long as nine words Should be able to define common objects in terms of use (hat, shoe, chair) Should be able to follow three commands given without interruptions Should know his age Should have simple time concepts: morning, afternoon, night, day, later, after, while Tomorrow, yesterday, today Should be using fairly long sentences and should use some compound and some complex sentences Speech on the whole should be grammatically correct In addition to the above consonants these should be mastered: f, v, sh, zh, th,1 He should have concepts of 7 Speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful Should be able to tell one a rather connected story about a picture, seeing relationships Between objects and happenings Should have mastered the consonants s-z, r, voiceless th, ch, wh, and the soft g as in George Should handle opposite analogies easily: girl-boy, man-woman, flies-swims, blunt-sharp short-long, sweet-sour, etc Understands such terms as: alike, different, beginning, end, etc Should be able to tell time to quarter hour Should be able to do simple reading and to write or print many words Can relate rather involved accounts of events, many of which occurred at some time in the past Complex and compound sentences should be used easily Should be few lapses in grammatical constrictions-tense, pronouns, plurals All speech sounds, including consonant blends should be established Should be reading with considerable ease and now writing simple compositions Social amenities should be present in his speech in appropriate

situations Control of rate, pitch, and volume are generally well and appropriately established Can carry on conversation at rather adult level Follows fairly complex directions with little repetition Has well developed time and number concepts