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If they have got something to say, why cant they just say it in English? Mary McKeever.

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Presentation on theme: "If they have got something to say, why cant they just say it in English? Mary McKeever."— Presentation transcript:

1 If they have got something to say, why cant they just say it in English? Mary McKeever

2 Central Tension in Mass HE System (Burton Clarke, cited in Russell 2002) Equity Inclusion Everyday Speech Excellence Exclusion Academic Writing

3 Academic Literacies WP students experiences of speaking, reading and writing before university The challenges they face at university What universities can put in place to help students become fluent readers, confident speakers and expert writers Literacy experiences of one student

4 Speech development By the age of 5, spoken language is normally highly developed with ability to comprehend and produce grammatical sentences and a vocabulary of 3,000 words. A natural part of early human development, acquired unconsciously and relatively effortlessly. (Kellogg and Whiteford, 2009)

5 Talking and writing at school I didnt go to the best primary school. We did reading and things, but we didnt really do any pronunciations and anything. When I started in Year 7 my form tutor asked me a question and I said I aint going and the teacher told me off for using aint. And I didnt understand or know anything wrong with that. I thought that was a valid word, I didnt know any different. But I always remember that, and from that, I have avoided using that word.

6 Telling me off for being different from how I wrote I do find I write differently to how I talk. Very much. I wouldnt have wrote aint in an essay or in a story. So the way I spoke and the way I wrote were very different then. She wouldnt have picked that up from my essays. It was a telling me off for being different from how I wrote, if that makes sense. I always enjoyed poetry and writing poems but again, the way I would say them would probably be different from the way I wrote them. And again my family arent academic or in any education and I think the way I spoke was who I was surrounded by, my environment. Who I am writing for is a different environment.

7 Academic speech I felt I couldnt just ask a question the way I would ask my friends a question. I felt like I have got to try to make this sound academic. For example I would say Me and my friend. That is what I would say in general everyday language but when I was talking to a lecturer I felt I had to say Amy and I or Amy and myself. I had to stop and think about that. It delayed me asking the question. I would have to reword it.

8 Immersion in work talk on placement In my department at Rolls Royce there were all these men in suits, ties and shirts. It took me a while, but I did have to get into the formal meetings and start picking up the language - business terms, very technical IT terms. Very jargon- based organisation, very much they have their own acronyms for things. It was mainly an assumption on their part that you already speak like that because they are so institutionalised in their own way. So they dont see anything different, so they expect everybody to speak like that.

9 Talking on placement and at university And I think after having the placement, coming back to university, not only did I feel I could contribute to the lectures, but I felt I had something to offer. I felt like a professional. Do you know what I mean? When I came back to university, I felt I could go and ask questions because that is what I would do in a work situation. To find out requirements, Id go and ask questions. So you learn something from an outside environment and you can bring that into your university life as well.

10 I havent apologised for my opinion I felt that even if wasn't 100% sure of the answer, I could give it and sound convincing and not feel embarrassed or go red. I didnt apologise for my opinion. I havent apologised for my opinion. That has been one of the motivating things this year. I asked the questions I wanted to ask. I answered how I wanted to answer. I didnt let anything stop me. I felt it was my true opinion. I didnt try to give a text book answer. I would give my unique opinion and one thing I liked was when the lecturer would reflect and use that further in the lecture: Based on what Katie said earlier…. It just gives you that feedback that you are OK, that your opinion is valid.

11 The trap of using the wrong word But you need somebody, or I felt I needed somebody, to tell me that that word wasnt usable. Just learning the grammar and the order of words as well. I feel I can still fall into that trap of using the wrong word. For me aint still has a meaning in an informal setting. My sisters will use it and I dont tell them it is wrong. It is their language and that is what they want to use.

12 Becoming an Expert Writer Writing: approximately 25 years of instruction, practice and immersion in all aspects of literacy practices. Learning a musical instrument: mastery of both mechanical skills and creative production Expert Violinist: 10,000 hours of solitary practice vs. amateur 1,500 practice (Kellogg and Whiteford, 2009 in press

13 Knowledge telling: thoughts on paper with little attention to the text or the reader Knowledge transforming: generating the text changes what the author wants to say. In reading the author builds a representation of what the text says and the author works on aligning what she meant to say..review, retrieval of knowledge, revision, editing. Knowledge crafting: all the above along with modification of text in the light of anticipated responses of imagined readers(Kellogg and Whiteford, 2009 in press)

14 Grammar I think the reasons why bits of grammar were unclear was because I didnt necessarily have the best grammar lessons at school. All I remember is that I missed the first week of secondary school and they seemed to have covered a lot of the grammar in the first week. But my secondary school, they picked me up and they did a good job. But the only thing they didnt do, because of class sizes, they didnt give me the feedback I got at university.

15 Writing at college The only writing I did in college was IT and graphics, so completely different to essay writing. It wasnt since school that I actually wrote an essay, a good two years earlier to starting university. So I didnt know how to approach it, so I just drew a spider diagram with the topic in the middle and then branch off all my different ideas. I never generally did essay plans because I never really saw the value in them. I just thought Ive wrote this much, I might as well just write the whole essay.

16 How to write assignments To be completely honest, I dont ever remember being told about writing as such. You just get told what your assignment is and you are expected to write it. It is a subconscious thing you should already know. You are not told to write in a certain way. Some units they say we want a logbook or we want it to be size 1, but they dont tell you how to write it.

17 Handwriting My handwriting has never been good and it has got worse since I have been using computers. I had a maths exams and I knew I got enough right for 55 or 60, but I ended up with 40%. Then I though back how I wrote in the exam and if it wasnt readable. I know I was messy. But just to get that feedback, some of it was unreadable and unfortunately you failed. That feedback would be brilliant because then you could improve. Not everyone is going to assume it is their handwriting or even consider that that could be the problem.

18 Reading and meaning making Invisible, unprobed and unaided at university (van Pletzen, 2006 pp ) General assumption that students can learn independently from reading, will understand what they read and what they are supposed to get out it WP students can fail to learn formal knowledge from reading because they have little experience of the linguistic orientations that children from literate home environments acquire (Rose, 2004)

19 Reading, meaning and the text The meaning does not reside ready-made in the text or in the reader but happens or comes into being during the transaction between reader and text. (Rosenblatt 1994, p. 1063) Readers draw on their cultural capital or linguistic-experiential reservoir… in speaking, listening, writing or reading. (Rosenblatt, 1994, p. 1061)

20 Literacy at school I went to a poor middle school. It was very multicultural and English tended to be a second language and I think that is where the weakness stemmed from. I hadn't been taught from a young age. I was there for fours years. I would come home from school from a young age and you know how it is, you come home with books you have to read. Some of them would have the other language written on them. My reading wasnt very good back then, I think they were trying to teach the children two different languages at once. I think that is where the grammar weakness stemmed from because I didnt have 100% concentration on English.

21 Link between reading and talking Because when you first read journals it is like this barrier until I could speak like that. It is not even just the big words that are used, but it is the way they write the sentences, putting them round the other way as such and of which. Those sorts of phrases are put in a different way, not the way you would probably say it. Again it is written differently to how you would pronounce it.

22 Reading in my head out loud Because I tend to read in my head out loud, and I am trying to read it out loud in my second year and it doesnt make sense but that was before I would speak like that. So I think you pick up on what you read and you apply that in the way you talk without thinking. But that is what I found hard and difficult: the phrasing of the sentences. Because I would read them out and Id think that is round the wrong way, it doesnt quite make sense to me.

23 Reading as listening outside the tent You tend to read from an outside position. Thats the tent. They are all in the tent and you are outside it. You are listening in and you are trying to grab hold of what they are trying to say. But by final year, after reading so many, you understand. Because they are all very similar in the way they are written, you learn to pick out the bits that you actually need. You dont need to hear the whole conversation. You just need the bits that are relevant for you.

24 Joining the tent Id say Im still outside it until I have written. I dont feel Ill be equal to them until I have written one because I dont think you can really join the tent until you have contributed to it. It is something I would really like to do. That would finish my journey at university. If I could get to that level, write an article of some description, something that interests me, and to contribute as well, because that would be contributing at the highest level really.

25 Key inspirations: speaking, reading and writing Elbow, P. (2000) Everyone Can Write. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Thesen, L. and van Pletzen, E. (2006) Academic Literacy and the Languages of Change. London: Continuum. Kellogg, R.T. and Whiteford, A.P. (2009) Training Advanced Writing Skills: The Case for Deliberate Practice. Educational Psychologist in press


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