Language and Comprehension Thesis

Pages: 6 (1763 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Language

Language and Comprehension are both skills that are essential for learning. Without these two entities, society would not have the capacity to function. A great deal of research has been conducted concerning the importance of these two elements, specifically as it pertains to education and classroom practices.

Pinell (1975) and Ketch (2005), both have views on the importance of language and comprehension. Their views involve very precise concepts and language and comprehension and how they should be used by children. The authors also provide guidance as it pertains to the manner in which educators should encourage students in the areas of language and comprehension.

The purpose of this discussion is to provide a summary and reaction to the articles Conversation: The comprehension connection and Language in primary classrooms. The summary will focus on the salient point made by both authors and the manner in which they address educators.

In her article, Pinnell refers to the seven (7) functions of speech outlined by Halliday.

The seven Functions of Speech that Pinnell discusses are Instrumental, regulatory, interactional, personal, imaginative heuristic and informative. Instrumental language refers to language that is vocalized for the purpose of satisfying needs or desire. An example of instrumental language is "I would like." Regulatory language occurs as a means to control behavior. An example of this type of language is "Go there." Interactional is defined as language designed to engage in social relationship. An example of this type of language is "Let's dance." Personal language involves the offering of personal opinions and might include a phrase such as "I have come." The imaginative function of language conveys fantasies and includes such phrases as "Let's make-believe." Heuristic language is associated with attempting to discover things. Heuristic language uses phrases such as "I wonder why." Finally information language involves presenting information about the world and his./her experiences. This type of language might include phrases such as "I have to tell you something."

In discussing the manner in which children use these functions the primary goal of the writer is to demonstrate that children need to utilize all of the forms of language. She explains that many who work with children including teachers often ignore the imaginative use of language in children. However, this is problematic because imaginative language allows children to express how they truly feel. Overall she is simply suggesting that all form of language should be encouraged in children because it assists in their development.

In her article, Pinnell presents a verbatim conversation between two children, Jeff and Andy, who are building a boat. In this exchange various functions of language are presented. For example, Jeff and Andy are engaging in informative, personal and heuristic language forms. In their efforts to get the boat the float they are wonder aloud what steps need to be taken to ensure that the boat is serving the purpose that is supposed to. The conversation begins with Andy saying "Ok, I got to see if this'll float." In this instance he is using both instrumental and informative languages. The phrase is instrumental in the he has the desire to see if the boat will float. He is also using informative language because his life experience thus far has taught him that the boat might float. There is also I great deal of person language; both boys are asserting that they know how to handle the situation.

The heuristic language can be found in the subtle nuances both of the boys are wondering why it want float and they are using all of their resources to remedy the situation. Regulatory language is also found in this particular conversation. For instance Jeff tells Andy to look at this, in reference to the boat. Imaginative language is also used but in a more nuance manner. For instance, both the boys are using the imagination to attempt to understand what could make the boat float.

The use of all of these language functions seems to be assisting the boys in constructing something that will float. This scenario demonstrates the importance of each of these functions specifically as it pertains to how children solve problems.

Overall the Pinell article focuses greatly on the function of language, particularly as it pertains to children. The author provides solid examples of the manner in which the various forms of language are used in daily conversation. Additionally, Pinell demonstrates how children use language functions to solve problems, even when they appear to be playing.

Now that Pinnell has been discussed, let us focus our attention on Ketch. According to the Ketch article, there are three (important cognitive strategies employed by readers when they comprehend. The three important cognitive strategies include making connections, questioning and mental imagery.

As it pertains to making connections, readers focus on the text, the background information and to experiences. As it pertains to the text readers tend to become enthralled in what they are reading. They may connect to the words and the manner in which language is being utilized. Additionally, readers may connect to the text because of the way that it is written. This is particularly evident with poetry a reader may be drawn to the rhythm and rhyme scheme associated with the poem. People may also gravitate to words that they have never seen before in a text. As it pertains to the background information readers use this to better understand the context of what is written. In other words readers use the background information to better understand the plot. Without the background information readers would be completely lost in understanding the points that the writer is attempting to make. The ability to understand the background information is particularly important when reading a novel. Relating to experiences is the final cognitive strategy that people tend to use. The ability to identify with certain characters in a book can make it easier to understand. In addition, having a shared experience with a character encourages some readers to continue reading even if they are fond of reading. People look for shared experiences in others in a whole host of situations and reading comprehension isn't any different.

Readers also use questioning as a cognitive strategy. Questioning allows people to better understand what is being read. Individuals that ask questions find answers that allow them to better comprehend what is being read.

Mental imagery is also a cognitive strategy. Many readers actually envision the words are written and the descriptions that the author presents. This mental imagery assists people in better understanding the plot and the context of what is being read.

Conversation also plays a role in developing these cognitive strategies. Conversation gives individuals the opportunity to investigate because they can ask questions and receive answers. Such conversation can provide the individual with the background information needed to understand the conversation. In addition, when people have conversations they usually relate to one another by discussing shared experiences. These are the ways in which these cognitive strategies are used in conversation.

According to Ketch, teachers use the following conversation formats for teaching comprehension: literature circles, book clubs, cross-age conversations, whole-class discussions, think/pair/share activities. Ketch believes that teachers should utilize the formats available to them. As it pertains to literature circles students should be given particular roles and they should be able to discuss books in the context of these roles. In book clubs, for instance, teachers should encourage students to discuss certain aspects of the book. Ketch asserted that in o cross-age conversations-teachers should assist students of different ages in engaging in conversation. Likewise teachers can utilize class discussions as a way to distribute ideas. Lastly the author suggests that through a think/pair/share strategy -- teachers can allow students have a conversation with a partner and share their feelings with the class.

Like Pinnell, Ketch seemed to be extremely dedicated to his area of research. The researcher explains the importance of comprehension in the learning process. In addition, the article presents educators with the tools that they need to assist students with their comprehension skills.

Although Pinnell and Ketch speak on two different topics, there are some similarities found in their writing. For instance, they both share the belief that teachers should allow student to express their feelings

In some classrooms, students are required to be quiet for most of the day. They have little opportunity to practice thinking strategies or show evidence of their level of cognitive development. It other classrooms, conversation becomes the way that we, as teachers, determine the strategies a student understands and employs as he or she comprehends. Teachers who model cognitive strategies and foster student discussion know that strategies get better as students practice their use. In addition teachers recognize the value in providing time for students to reflect, form ideas, cite evidence of their evolving thinking, and comprehend. Students actively engaged in the conversation process can over time, become reflective, critical thinkers (Ketch, 2005, 8).

In this passage Ketch is asserting that teachers should encourage students to think freely. Ketch believes… [END OF PREVIEW]

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