UNIT 6 TEACHING OF TEXT OF TEXT, POETRY & GRAMMAR
Most language materials found in the textbooks whether in the form of text, poems or any other form presuppose that the students who will use them would possess the necessary linguistic skills to process them. Children with hearing impairment due to the lack of adequate exposure to language often fall behind their peers in comprehending language materials. This unit will help you to understand the various techniques and strategies to be followed in the classrooms for teaching text, poems and formal grammar to children with hearing impairment.
Teaching of Text
When considering when to begin with and how to carry on with the challenging task of teaching of text to children with hearing impairment, teachers need to understand that these children do not have sufficient background knowledge or the language skills that most normal students bring to the reading process.
Definition of Text
Let us first know what a text is and the different types of text. In very simple terms “a text is a sequence of paragraphs”. It is what we generally find in our Science, English, History and other textbooks.
Types of text
There are different types of text:
- Narrative text which is an acknowledgement of events. e.g. Inauguration of a new cafeteria
- Procedural text which consists of instructions on how to do something. e.g. Decorating a cake
- Expository text which explains something. e.g. The law of gravitation
- Hortatory text which is an attempt on the part of the speaker to get the addressee to do something or to act in a certain way.e.g. Filtering water through filter paper.
- Descriptive text that lists characteristics of something.e.g. Characteristics of solids.
Problems in comprehending text
Learning to read poses unique challenges to students with hearing loss. A necessary precursor to understand or comprehend the text is knowledge about vocabulary but it is not the only ingredient. Most 8-10 year old children with hearing impairment struggle to comprehend the information wrapped in the basic sentence patterns. With very limited basic language competence these children face severe difficulties in comprehending text. When the child does not understands the underlying grammar he ends up in misinterpreting sentence level meaning.
Consider the following two sentences:
- The boy loved the shoes.
- The boy was loved by the shoes.
- Children with hearing impairment due to lack of exposure to oral language tend to retain the surface order of sentence; hence for them both the above sentences would have no difference in their meanings.
Strategies of teaching text to children with hearing impairment
Hence a teacher must know and use the text comprehension strategies, which help students bridge the gap between the language they understand, and the language they do not understand. Following are some of the text comprehension strategies that a teacher of children with hearing impairment must keep in mind while teaching them text. First of all the teacher must be aware of what the child understands and what the child does not which means the teacher must have a thorough understanding of the child’s previous language and knowledge. The vocabulary and the grammatical aspects of the text must be fairly taught prior to teaching of the text and it should be kept in mind that the text material must be age appropriate and relevant to the child’s life. It is always beneficial if the teacher gives the children a purpose for reading. While teaching the text the teacher must explain the new words with suitable examples in varying contexts. Pictorial representation of the new words is useful in the junior classes. For example: While teaching a story to the child you come across a sentence like “the crow had a tiny, but very tasty smelling, piece of cheese in her beak”. The child for the first time comes across the word ‘tiny’. It can be explained to the child by a pictorial representation. Recently there are interactive soft wares available to teach these concepts as shown in Fig. 1.
Based on the previous knowledge the child must be taught to make predictions and inferences while going through the text as for example “ The cat will probably kill the mouse” or “ The chalk would float on the water” or “ The plant bends towards the window to get light ”. The child must be taught to think actively as he/she reads the text. The teacher should let the students generate their own questions based on the text and find answers to them and thus monitor their own comprehension. For example “Oh, does the third line mean that grandmother would come the next week to Mira’s house?” Many times the answers to such questions will be found in the succeeding lines. This strategy usually works well and needs to be followed with older students. The teachers should ask questions based on the text so as to check how far they have understood and opt for re-reading and remedial teaching as the case may be. Last, but not the least, the teacher must not forget to summarize the main ideas of the text so as to connect the central ideas and eliminate unnecessary information and most importantly to remember what they have read. One should always remember that parents and caregivers of children who can hear unknowingly expose their children to a vast reservoir of vocabulary and grammar by reading to them stories, poems etc and when the children grow up they themselves read a lot, which further enhances their comprehension and language. Similarly, parents and teachers of children with hearing impairment must read to them and help them in cultivating the habit of reading, which would facilitate and improve both their language and knowledge base.
Do’s of text teaching Be aware of previous knowledge and language Pre teach vocabulary and grammar Identify where the difficulty occurs Proceed only if the child understands Ask questions Involve the child actively Use pictures Predictions and inferences are a must Do summarize the lesson
Teaching of Poetry
Importance of poetry
Music and poetry serve as a vent of our emotional expressions. It consists of phrases that have strong rhythmic beat. Poetry is fascinating to all. However, for children with hearing impairment, it can be used as a means for language and speech development. It is considered as one of the techniques, which covers not only language development but also helps, the children in imagination, development of abstract terms and in the development of suprasegmental aspects of speech. Suprasegmentals are one of the important aspects of speech, which make our speech intelligible. Suprasegmentals includes intonation, stress, rhythm, pause and emphasis. These prosodic features are essential for understanding the communicative intent of the speaker. Initially babies develop comprehension of spoken language around them through these suprasegmental cues in their mother tongue. As children with hearing impairment lack acoustic feedback, their suprasegmentals are affected and this makes their speech poorly intelligible with many speech errors. Typically speech of a prelingually deaf child is monotonous and thus it becomes very important that children with hearing impairment learn suprasegmentals through poems or poetries.
Teaching of poetry at all levels
Infant level The selection of poems/poetry varies according to the age, interest and language level of the child. At 0-3 years, the infant has a limited range of interest. He is interested in himself and the things that concern his bodily needs, food, clothing etc. The young child likes doing things, running, skipping, jumping etc. Also infants have a limited vocabulary and memory. Hence short poems with repetitive and rhyming words that are full of actions must be selected for these children. Objectives of teaching poetry at infant level: Provide enough repetitive words for fixation of vocabulary To make the child aware about rhythm To develop their motor skills
For example: Rolly Polly, / Rolly Polly Up /up / up! Rolly Polly, / Rolly Polly Down/ down/ down.
Pre-primary level At pre-primary level i.e. 3-6 years the child is more settled and has some vocabulary of common objects. At this juncture poems on animals, fruits, vegetables, toys, numbers and body parts are liked by children and increase their vocabulary. At this stage knowledge of verbs daily routine activities, common commands and tenses can also be incorporated in the poems. Objectives of teaching poetry at pre-primary level: Use of previous knowledge and language Generalisation of verbs and daily routine activities Comprehension of common commands Introduction to numbers, adjectives and negations For example: Teddy bear, /Teddy bear Turn around. Teddy bear, / Teddy bear Touch the ground.
One, /two Buckle my shoe! Three, / four Shut the door.
Primary level At primary level when the child is 6-12 years, the child can read and understand to some extent the written text. At this stage poems reflecting comparison, few adjectives can be introduced. Objectives: Providing more input in existing knowledge Introducing abstract concepts and adverbs Providing opportunity to enjoy listening various rhythmic patterns / tunes
Chubby cheeks,/ dimple chin Rosy lips, / teeth within Curly hair, /very fair...
Secondary level onwards At secondary level and above the text includes the poems, which contains abstract concepts and complex grammar. These help the child in fostering imagination and deep thinking. Let us take the example of a pre-primary level poem and learn how to teach them to children with hearing impairment. The poem is usually written on a chart in large fonts. While teaching the poem the teacher marks the intonation patterns of the phrases in the poem. With actions the teacher recites the poem and make them understand the rise and fall of the voice. She asks the children to recite it with her and makes necessary corrections as and when required. Objectives: To provide opportunity to understand and modify their own voice To develop an aesthetic sense. Exposure to and familiarization with poetic terminology and devices. To module correct intonation patterns and phrases in the poem Use of figurative language as a medium to establish tone and meaning. For example: The bat By day the bat is cousin to the mouse. He likes the attic of an aging house. His fingers make a hat about his head. His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead. He loops in crazy figures half the night Among the trees that face the corner light.
While teaching poetry one has to be very clear about two things. They are: The intention of markings of rhythm and pauses on the poem chart should be told to the students and brought to their notice. Every aspect of supra segmental as well as development of language should be given equal importance. Points to keep in mind Check whether the hearing aid must be in working condition Check that the child is listening the suprasegmental features Check that the child understands the intonation pattern The correct intonation and phrasing is marked on the chart
Teaching Grammar through Conversation Method
In unit 5 you have already learnt about the various techniques of language development in children with hearing impairment. One of the methods which is very popular to teach grammar is conversation method. It is one of the tools to teach spontaneous speech. Conversation is simply what we do in our daily lives. We converse with many people in a day and in the process get exposed to a lot of language. Most importantly we spontaneously emit out speech according to the demands of the situation and context. Hence conversation proves to be an effective method to facilitate language development in prelingually deaf children. Let us first be aware of the requirements of the conversation technique.
Requirements of a conversation
The following are important in a conversation: Eye contact: The caregiver/teacher must be careful to have proper eye contact while communicating with the child. It helps in drawing the child’s attention and reactions of both the parties are directly connected. Attention: The caregiver/teacher must be vigilant enough to the child’s feeble signals, too, and tailor his/her reactions accordingly. Seizing the opportunity: The teacher should seize the child’s body language, gestures or utterances and interpret them. Whenever the opportunity arises suitable language must be given to the child. Simple language: The idea presented by the child and seized by the mother/teacher should be given back in simple language and not “baby talk” and in short grammatically correct sentences. Empathetic understanding: The mother /teacher should be able to put herself in the child’s place and understand the child’s reactions. E.g. when the child falls and hurts himself, the mother says “Oh! No!! It’s painful, isn’t it?” Things to be avoided: The mother should avoid excessive questioning, repetitions and frequent corrections. Listening skills: The mother should listen and interpret the child’s utterances in complete words. This boosts the desires of the child to express himself.
Teaching Formal grammar at all levels
Methods of teaching grammar
You have also read in Unit 5 about the various methods of teaching language viz. Natural, Structural and Combined method. Grammar can be taught to children with hearing impairment via these three methods. In the early years it is good and advisable to use Natural method to teach grammar and as the child grows cognitively and linguistically, the structural method is generally used to teach grammar. When dealing with children with hearing impairment it is felt that the combined method is the best method of teaching grammar. However the proportions of the use of natural and structural method would vary with the child’s level and age. Paul and Quigley (1994) discuss some examples of structural methods, which are very useful in teaching grammar. 1.The Fitzgerald key: Edith Fitzgerald developed this key in 1929. There are 6 columns and each column is headed by words, which are symbols. The purpose of this approach was to help deaf children learn the English structures and to construct grammatically correct sentences. Some simple examples of this could be Who/What Verb What/whom to whom
The cat took the cake to the table The child is asked to construct their own sentences from a list of nouns, verbs etc.
2.The APPLE TREE program: The APPLE TREE program is an acronym for A Patterned Program of Linguistic Expansion Through Reinforced Experience and Evaluations. It consists of six workbooks and a teacher’s manual designed to teach ten sentence patterns. Below are few sentence patterns of this program.
Sentence Pattern Example 1. NP1 + V (be) + adjective The girl is short 2. NP1 + V The boy is talking 3. NP1 + V + where The girls are going to play. 4. NP1 + V + when She went school this morning.
Under the natural method conversations can be carried out to boost/develop grammar in deaf children. At various levels different conversations can be carried out. The teacher should remember that work has to be done at the semantic and syntactic level simultaneously. The sentence structure has to be made understandable to the child in a natural way and for this conversation serves to be an ideal technique. While teaching formal grammar a combined approach of structural as well as natural approach is carried out. The child is first exposed to the grammatical structures first by conversation technique and later on the sentence patterns are practiced through drills and practices based on the structural approach.
Teaching grammar at various levels
At infant level At this stage where the child is 0-3 years of age the hearing impaired child has only few utterances in varied intonations. Here mother/teacher of the child who is hearing impaired uses an ‘anticipatory device’. When child makes some sound she tries to discover what the child wants to say. She seizes a gesture and uses appropriate language. In class, the child can be asked to bring toys, pictures or any food item etc and the teacher can start the conversation with one of the interesting things. This facilitates interest of the child and with no conscious efforts the teacher helps the children to converse. The conversation technique can be carried out through games like “Peek-a-boo” etc. Here the child’s face is covered and he is supposed to guess the things kept in a bag. The child touches and tries to guess what it is. The teacher/caregiver during the process gives the natural language for the child’s gestures or vocalizations. At pre primary level (3-6 years) At this level the child is exposed to written forms of language and also to the grammatical aspects of language. The child is taught to build up and express in simple sentences. In case the child uses grammatically incorrect sentence, the teacher corrects by presenting the corrected form of the sentence. The teacher can draw the faces of each child and then write sentences in speech balloons. Consider for example a butterfly suddenly flies into the classroom. The children get excited and this very moment must be utilised by the teacher to teach grammar through conversation. The teacher should keep in mind that the teacher must serve as a catalyst to keep the conversation continuing.
Here at this stage child is indirectly exposed to grammatical forms of language ie. Pronouns, verbs, exclamations, Wh question forms etc. At primary level (6-12 years) At this level child is already exposed to reading textbooks where he/she is supposed to carry out his/her own conversation by using complex grammatical structures. The topics of conversation at this stage could be from the incidents of their life, or from their textbook or some event occurring in the school etc. Now the child is expected to have a structured conversation and the teacher introduces complex grammatical structures. Eg. Child: I and my brother went to shop yesterday to buy books. Here child uses “and” conjunction “Yesterday, went”- past tense of verbs “Books”-plural form Similarly pronouns such as “they”, “them”, various verb forms and adverbs are also introduced at this stage.
At secondary level (12 years and above)
As the children move to the higher classes the language of the text will also become more enriched and varied in vocabulary and structure. Here children are exposed to abstract concepts and are expected to visualise the situations.
Jatin said: My grandparents are coming home on Friday. Bushra asked: Will they come by train or plane? Jatin answered: Not by plane or train but they are coming by car Mahi asked: Why they are coming here? Teacher said: May be because Kanpur is hotter than Mumbai.
Let us sum up
In this unit you have learned the different types of text and the problems of children with hearing impairment in comprehending text. You also were taught about the various strategies, which helps a teacher in facilitating easy comprehension of the text. You also must have realized the importance of poetry in development of suprasegmental aspects in children with hearing impairment. You have been exposed to the technique of teaching poetry to children of all levels and the points to be kept in mind while teaching a poem. Finally you have studied about the conversation method as a technique in fostering grammatical structures in children with hearing impairment and also learned about how to teach formal grammar at all levels.
Unit end activities
1.Select different types of text from the textbooks of primary level and categorize them. 2.Make a collection of poems for different levels of children. 3.Discuss how will you teach negative sentences by conversation technique to children with hearing impairment of primary level.
Answers to Check Your Progress
1.The different kinds of text are Narrative text, Procedural text, descriptive text, hortatory text, expository text. 2.The two strategies of teaching text are using pictorial representations of the difficult vocabulary and helping the students generate their own questions. 3.Poetry helps in teaching language as well as in developing suprasegmental features in a child. 4.Piggy on the railway, Picking up stones. Down came an engine, And broke piggy’s bones.
5.Conversation method helps in developing spontaneous speech and is very helpful in teaching grammar. The mother/teacher models the child’s utterances and provides the correct grammatical form thus teaching him grammar. 6.Teaching grammar through conversation method to pre primary students comprises making speech balloons and writing the utterances of the child as well as of the teacher in the balloons. The teacher then makes a reading deposit of the utterances and makes the child aware of the grammatical components involved in the deposits.
Huddar,A., More,R., Ghate,P.,, Gathoo,V., (2006), Language & communication DSE (HI) Manual, Kanishka publishers, New Delhi-110002
McCarr, J.(1969 ) Lessons in syntax, Dormac Inc, Beaverton Oregon Lack, A. (1955), The teaching of language to deaf children, Oxford University Press, London.