Books for learn to speak: syntax


Published on May 10, 2020


I continued my reflection about the support and development of the language with a study on the syntax.

This aspect of the language is dealt with usually in a second time, because it considers as a fundamental first stop, some skills, phonetic and morphological.

The syntax, in fact, provides for the ability of long-range planning, an ability that – in reality – is exercised from the very beginning of the reflection on language: to pronounce a word we have to combine the sounds in a precise sequence, the same happens in the sentence, because to pronounce it correctly, we need to combine the words in a precise sequence.

The skills on which children have to work out is a dual skill that is the combination of sounds and words that are compatible and of selection (or choice) between sounds and words that are incompatible.

This consideration, in my opinion, is often taken for granted and the exercises of reflection on the differences and compatibility, as a rule, are considered as exercises aimed at reading and writing and not so much on the oral production. In this case, however, I believe that the harmonious development of a certain awareness in the person also supports the development of language. In this regard, the cards that I have met along with my son look a lot like word games, a bit mechanical and devoid of appeal, which can be found on many magazines. The result is the identification of differences and similarities is mechanical and highly abstract, but when it can play a role of significance very interesting.

Take for example Owl or screech owl by Emma Strack and Guillaume Plantevin: this popular book combines the subjects similar, but different, and tells of the quirks and differences. Pair after pair the children not only pick up to grasp the differences and the similarities, but they will understand how significant and important, so as to determine a reality (also) is radically the opposite.

Another book that may be very interesting from this point of view, it is Before and after by Jean Jullien. In a game of incisive transformations, the children see the before and after of so many situations: what happens in the middle? And what determines the change? What has remained the same and what has changed profoundly?

Refined the ability to grasp the peculiarities and differences (also) of the component phrases, it is interesting to learn how to combine them in the correct way. Linguistically, we distinguish two levels of syntax: the syntax of the word, which refers to the ability of word to combine with other elements to form the sentence and the syntax of the sentence, that is, the ability of phrases to organize themselves coherently into a wider discourse. Paradoxically, the primary level (syntax of the word) is never particularly considered, it always passes instead to a reflection on the syntax of the sentence: the children are asked to organize the logical sequences, to describe or tell stories from pictures... Immediately, in short, they are asked to produce complex texts and sequences articulated.

Very helpful with my son was instead working on sintagmi and combinations that are shorter, but not simpler. Thanks to the imagination of Giovanna Zoboli and Philip Jordan (When the sun rises; In the sky and in the sea; On the lawn; In summer, In winter) we enjoyed the gallery of pictures, looking for each framework to integrate the description dry and accompanies it with a question: "the cuckoo sings", where? On the shaft. "The fruits of fall", from where? The fruits fall from the tree. "The dormouse is sleeping", where? The dormouse sleeps in the den. In this way, the sequences subject-verb can combine with constructions and sintagmi later, explaining some of the syntactic relationships are important, which may change from time to time. "The dormouse is sleeping", when? Winter.

The beautiful pictures are worth the trip narrative, and some combinations of poetic, beautiful and offer opportunities for making poetry, as is reflected in the syntax: "sing a spring," what? A song to the child.

Finally we come to the famous sequences that engage children in the reconstructions of texts and events. Exercises the most common that relate to the syntax (of the sentence) expect to submit, in a different way and messy, the frames that make up a story to which the children have to make sense. To perform these exercises the children have to grasp the differences and similarities between the different frames, and organize the sequences with a complete meaning: the images are quite standardized, and the stories are such, so to speak, because there is no source of any interest to tell something, but only the finalization that allows the recognition of the sequence. This, in my opinion, is very limiting and, once again, the risk is that the children learn about the mechanism to resolve the “game” without having really learned the operation or the need to possess this skill.

In working on this topic I found in the wimmelbuch, and in particular in the tetralogy of Rotraut Susanne Berner, support wonderful. From time to time you can choose a character to follow and to tell its history: in the pages the child will have to initially identify the character, then you will realize that the action or the movement, page after page – will result in a change. The charm and the care of the interweaving narrative will ensure that each story offers a content enjoyable. The children will be able to reconstruct a story worth to be told!

Paradoxically – and with this I return to the consideration with which I introduced this pair of articles – I think that reading any book makes it obvious to a child the existence of a sequence of a sense and the need for this out there. It is sufficient to read! Think simply to the Caterpillar Maisazio, or any story well-plotted without the first there can be no after.

In short, to read to their children and to never give up when faced with the necessity of a sense, exercises the most minutes, can aid in the discovery of wonders.

P.S. I am available for personal consultation on the theme: drop me a line.

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