I have recently been thru an experience interesting from an educational point of view. I have spent alot of time with a 9 year old (not mine) whose language skills were poor. She basically was a non-reader TV-watcher who, while bright, had weak language skills. Her grammar was poor, her vocabulary was weak, and she couldn't care less about either.
Over the last six months, I have convinced her that just such things matter. She even asked why it mattered how she spoke "so long as people know what I mean". I compared it to clothes (whcih she cares alot about). I explained that "some people think clothes are only there to keep us warm and for reasons of modesty. But, don't you think clothes are also about looking good?".
After she finished snickering at the concept of "modesty" (she asked me to explain what it meant), she admitted that perhaps people were paying attention not just to what she said but how she said it.
We also spent alot of time playing word games and discussing the meanings of words. After about six months, I think she has become word conscious (language aware ?)and is on the path to improving her language skills. The word games were almost always played in the car and consisted of:
- Hig Pig - What do you call a feline that has put on weight? (answer: a fat cat)
- Opposites - What is the opposity of "hasty"
- Synonyms - What's a word that means the same as "tiny" ?
- Alphabet Games - I went to the grocery store and bought...apples, berries, cherries, dates, eggs...
- Analogies - A flock is to birds as what is to fish?