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Old 01-02-2009, 03:12 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,741 posts, read 36,442,720 times
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Default Teaching Your Children to Speak Well

Do you set a good example of careful speaking at home for your children? More than just correcting their obvious errors, but always speaking at home in correct English, for them to pattern their style after.

When my grandson was learning to talk, his mother was a bit slack, and he was learning to respond to questions with "yup" and "uh-huh". So when I was talking to him, and he replied that way, I asked "Yes?", and if he replied "Yup", I repeated, "Does that mean Yes?". Pretty quick he caught on, and when I asked him "Yes?", he'd say "Yes". It took only a few repetitions of this to understand that the word is "Yes" and any other answer will not do. His mother heard this, and started doing the same thing, and very soon, he always said "Yes", and all the other versions dropped out of his vocabulary.

Your children are going to talk the way you do. If you think it will be to their career advantage to grow up speaking complete, grammatically correct sentences, you'd better start doing it yourself.

I was very lucky to have parents who spoke carefully and had a respect for careful English, even though neither of them finished high school. Even more important, was a friend of the family that we saw often, who spoke like she was reading from a book, perfectly enunciating every word. Not just to me---I never heard her talk any other way. Her mother in law was a school teacher in the 1890s. They were a powerful and important influence in my life. I owe much of my success in life to the fact that, despite not having much education myself, I could give the impression that I had.

(I originally opened this thread in Education forum, but I think most of the people there are teachers.)
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:42 PM
 
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I do, but then again I was an English major and almost an English teacher.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:06 PM
 
Location: SD
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My husband and I both TRY to speak correctly to our children and insist on proper manners. 98% of the time, I receive please, thank you and yes. Sometimes I need to prompt them in correct behavior with others, such as saying please and thank you when placing an order at a restaurant. I think careful speaking and manners can go hand in hand. My four children all speak very well (a little too well, sometimes) and are very expressive. I feel some of it's because we make an effort to eat dinner as a family and everyone gets a turn to discuss their day, etc.

Our biggest struggle is grammar. Our 5 year old has horrific grammar. Today, she told us, "Them is washing thems car." My husband looked at her and said, "They are washing their car?" And she responded, "Yes." We used to make her repeat correctly but she was getting very frustrated every time she talked to us, we corrected her so she stopped talking for awhile. We had her tested and they said it was age-appropriate and the only thing we could do was remind her of the correct form of speech without putting her down or making her repeat. Unfortunately, it's VERY frustrating!! For both of us...she feels very happy when she says things correctly but it's tough that she has to think very hard before she can have a conversation. I feel so bad for her.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:56 PM
 
Location: chicagoland
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I trys to speaks good to my baby. We don't do good tho. specially when I don't feel good. When her food doesn't taste well she tends to yell well.

Imsa workin on it tho. Yup, Ima workin on it for we can have good speach in my house.
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Old 01-03-2009, 01:24 AM
 
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I am from the south and my momma is from Germany. I have one very unusal accent. I have tried to speak in a proper fasion. This is what the people I work with call my phone operater voice. It comes off as artificial and robotic.

That being said, I have always encouraged my kids to speak clearly. One thing that is a pet peeve of mine, is when you call a child they answer with "huh?" or "what?". Dh and I have our kids say "yes?"

While I have little room to talk (or in my case tawk) about anyone else's enuciation, I do try to help my children speak in a way that will be benificial to their adult lives.
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Old 01-03-2009, 01:34 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,741 posts, read 36,442,720 times
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5FLgirls , it is probably not necessary to correct everything every time, or even most of the time. If they say "Them's washing thems car", at that age, you could just follow it up with a question "Did their car need washing?". Hearing the correct pronoun repeated enough times, the correct form would begin to sound normal. If they never hear you say "thems", it will begin to sound funny to them, and they will discontinue the use of the wrong form. This is how people learn to speak---they repeat entire phrases that sound normal and correct to them. "Ain't got no" will sound funny to any person who never hears anyone say it.

By the way, bilingual children have a strong internal sense of the propriety of when and where and to whom to speak each language. It is OK if your kids are "bilingual" and speak one "bad" language at school and another "good" language at home. The important thing is that they develop the ability to speak correctly as one of their languages, and they will then be able to do so when they need to, even if they also know how to speak bad school language just as fluently.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:11 AM
 
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I was talking with a woman the other day who had her three children (all under 6) with her. They were involved in our discussion as we were talking about Christmas, holidays... I would ask one of the children a question and they would answer "yes" and the mother would immediately say "Yes, what" to prompt the child to say "yes, maam" (We are in the south). This lady must have said "Yes, what?' no less than 12 times in our short conversation. It was so distracting!

Correct your children at home, not in public in the middle of a conversation! I can't imagine that leaving off "maam" is a worse etiquette breach than correcting someone else's manners in public is.
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Old 01-03-2009, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,741 posts, read 36,442,720 times
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I think "please" and "Thank you" are hugely overrated by our society, and even worse in most others. They are what semanticists call "Pre-Literate Language"---they came into existence among primitive men even before they developed the ability to convey detailed information. They are the equivalent of dogs barking, which conveys social meaning to other dogs, but no information. Please and Thankyou are simply verbal markers, that express a person's agreement to conform to social pageantry.

Once in Mali, west Africa, I was traveling with an acquaintance who understood some of the local language. Two men met each other at the train station, and embarked on a conversation that was so animated, that after about a minute, I asked my friend what they were talking about. She said "They are still saying Hello".
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:00 PM
j33
 
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When it comes to grammar, it takes kids awhile to learn it, and certain grammatical errors are documented as being part of the natural process of acquiring language and grammar. What is more important than correcting a child whose grammar is a bit off is modeling what is an acceptable way to speak. If children are surrounded by people who speak properly, then even if they don't quite get it right when they are younger and still acquiring language, they will eventually ... and then pretend to forget as teenagers .
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:16 AM
 
Location: Right where I want to be.
4,508 posts, read 5,261,914 times
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We have tried to keep reasonable language standards, even at home. The kids learned to say Yes please and No Thank-You and when addressing someone to first use their name/greeting and wait for a response rather than just start talking before you know someone is listening, and be sure you are not interrupting. Now the kids are teens and we are hearing a bit more "What?" and "Yeah"....it's annoying. It's sloppy talk and makes clear communication more difficult. Worse yet is that DH and DS are both very fast talkers, they tend to slur words and thoughts together and assume the listener will be able to follow. My biggest pet peeve is when they try to talk to me from a different room...like it is too much trouble to come in the same room for a conversation.
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