Language, Language, Language by Sophie Baber
Have you seen Brookham’s Wonder Wall this week? If you have then you will have spotted the wonderful irony that hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, one on the longest words in the English dictionary, is the name used to represent a fear of long words. If you are finding that a bit tricky to articulate, fear not there is a synonym that may be slightly easier to get your mouth around, sesquipedalophobia.
While these are not words that form part of my daily vernacular, I have to say that I think they are rather wonderful. Words and language are truly amazing human constructs that have enabled people to transmit complicated thoughts to one another over thousands of years. The discrete pulses, tones, hisses and puffs that we emit from our mouths have the magical power to travel through space and time, sharing knowledge and experiences across minds. From our youngest days, humans recognise that language is powerful; one only has to see the sense of wonder in a baby when it realises that its cries can causes its parent to magically move towards it, to understand the influence that these sound have over us.
Therefore, I am sure it will come as no surprise to find out that vocabulary is an extremely strong indicator of student success, if not the most important. What you may not know is that the most important years for developing a broad vocabulary are the early years. If a child learns two new words a day, they will have learnt 730 new words across a whole year, but if a child learns 8 new words a day, they will have learnt 2920 in the same period of time. In families where parents speak to their children frequently, ask their children a range of questions and vary their language, children hear more than 30 million words by the age of 3! As I am sure you have already realised, by the age of five, the difference in children’s understanding, when comparing those who live in a language rich environment and those who do not, is absolutely vast.
With this in mind, I am extremely proud of our English curriculum. By stepping away from the rather dry National Curriculum, the children at Highfield and Brookham are filled with the wonder of language from the moment they step into our classrooms. From as early as Nursery, children are introduced to similes, alliteration and onomatopoeia. As they grow, the children marvel at metaphors, revel in the rhythm of repetition and ponder the power of personification. They learn to play with language, to magpie it and to manipulate it. We strive to provide a language rich environment to inspire and delight.
Not convinced, just listen to Stephen Fry…