Power of verbal language

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of head bobbing in place of actual vocabulary with my students – and not just with second language learners.  It’s got me second guessing whether or not I’ve been as focused on oral language as I should be.

My current crop of students are really quite chatty. I don’t think they’ve ever encountered a moment topic, social or academic, that did not trigger commentary 🙂 — quite a bit of it off topic.  At least it seems that way to me – maybe I’m getting tired and ready to cut the apron strings.

I find myself saying “use your words” more often lately and I’m wondering why.

The way I look at it, the use of oral language has a huge impact on students’ written communication. I often ask the students to tell me orally what it is that they mean to say in written form.  And then, instead of words flowing out of their lips, I ask them to make those words come out of their pencil. This is not a new and unique strategy — I know teachers do this all of the time.

What is troubling to me is that when my students resort to head bobbing, that oral language piece is, well, languishing and the proof often shows up in writing. Sentences are developmentally simpler than more verbal peers.

There can be no let up. Even with just 7 weeks to go, there will be a renewed effort to insist on using verbal language on Monday.

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