The Development of writing - Child Language Acquisition

This is a summary of terminology and theorists regarding how children learn how to write.

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Developing Writing
When a child is learning to write, it's not just about mechanical and physical control of
the pen or pencil, it is as much about:
Combining words and sentences to convey ideas
Recognising that writing generally has an audience
Using recognisable discourse and genre conventions
Manipulating language to achieve specific purposes
In any language, writing uses a common and agreed code of symbols. Individual
graphemes combine to make words that a language user can recognise. But writing
is only effective when the order is right this order can be syntactical and in the
spelling and orthography of words.
To summarise, writing means being able to use:
The vocab. system and associated meanings of words and phrases (lexis)
Sentences to create meaning (grammar)
Graphemes that relate to phonemes, and other devices to create prosodic
effects, e.g. in punctuation choices (phonology)
Social conventions within certain types of written texts (pragmatics)
Cohesive structures (discourse)
The layout of texts, the use of graphemes and images to create semiotic
meaning (graphology)
Variations in language to suit audience, purpose and context (register)
Writing is far more prescriptive than speech and follows established rules and
schools place much more emphasis upon it in a child's education.
The Stages of Writing
Letterlike forms
Copied letters
Child's name and strings of letters
Barry Kroll (1981) stages of development
Preparation (up to 6) ­ basic motor skills are acquired alongside some principles of
Consolidation (78) ­ Writing is similar to spoken language (incl. a more casual,
colloquial register, unfinished sentences and strings of clauses joined by the
conjunction `and')
Differentiation (910) ­ Awareness of writing as separate from speech emerges. A
stronger understanding of writing for different audiences and purposes is evident and
becomes more automatic
Integration (mod teens) ­ This stage heralds the `personal voice' in writing and is
characterised by evidence of controlled writing, with appropriate linguistic choices
being made consistently.

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Understanding genre
From an early age children see specific writing genres, usually ones related to their
own experience, e.g. invitations for birthday parties, lists for Father Christmas.
Understanding register is important in order to meet genre conventions, and children
have to learn that vocabulary choices and grammatical constructions contribute to the
overall tone. Also significant is the purpose of the text as well as the audience and the
relationship between reader and writer.…read more

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Mode Features
Expressiv The first mode to develop because it resembles speech.
e Uses the first person perspective and the content is usually based on
personal preferences.
Poetic Develops gradually, requiring skills in crafting and shaping language, but
it encouraged early on because of its creativity.
Phonological features such as rhyme, rhythm and alliteration as well as
descriptive devices such as adjectives and similes are common.
Transactio Develops last, around secondary school age, once children have finally
nal dissociated speech from writing.…read more

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Children have to learn and practice homophones so that they can use the right one
in their written word. Another difficulty is created by the addition of inflections, which
can affect the phonology of a word, as in `house' and `houses'.…read more

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Grapheme ­ a written symbol, letter or combination of letters that is used to
represent a phoneme (the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a
Orthography ­ the study of the use of letters and the rules of spelling in a language
Morphology ­ the area of language study that deals with the formation of words from
smaller units called morphemes
Bound morpheme ­ one that cannot stand alone as an independent word, but must
be attached to another morpheme/word (e.g.…read more


Kathryn Hacche

Really helpful! Thank you :) x

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