Feeling - thinking - speaking: More extensive sentence memory, better grammar

2022-12-12 "The results of the first study with day-care children are promising," says Dr Maria von Salisch, professor of developmental psychology. Now the researchers from three universities are developing an advanced training course for primary schools.

"Language makes it easier for children to organise, reflect on and share their own emotional experiences," says the psychology professor. ©Leuphana/Marvin Sokolis
"Language makes it easier for children to organise, reflect on and share their own emotional experiences," says the psychology professor.

The everyday language support provided by the professionals is promising: "Our results show that the children's language skills have improved significantly, for example in sentence comprehension, morphological rule formation and sentence memory. These areas are very important, especially for educational language," says Dr. Maria von Salisch, professor of developmental psychology. For three years, she and an interdisciplinary team from the universities of Lüneburg, Braunschweig and Hildesheim conducted research in almost 30 groups in day-care centres and developed a concept for language education integrated into everyday life. Now the follow-up project "Feeling - Thinking - Speaking in Primary School" is starting. Until autumn 2023, the researchers will develop training materials for primary school teachers and specialists in afternoon care. In addition, lessons will be videotaped at the beginning and end of the project to measure the success of the intervention.
The idea is that by using language teaching strategies on the part of the entire pedagogical staff, the children's language performance will improve. In everyday integrated language education, learning opportunities arise constantly: The teaching and professional staff address the children's topics, create occasions for speech and casually correct mistakes by repeating them correctly. A learning situation could look like this: Children are looking at a book with a teacher in an afternoon class. Not one child reads aloud, but all together consider how the heroine feels or what she might do next. "Primary school children come with different prerequisites. Our language teaching strategies stimulate language development and should ultimately ensure similar starting conditions at school," says Maria von Salisch. International studies show the importance of language skills for school success: only those who master the language of instruction can keep up in class.

Emotional knowledge plays an important role: "School is a learning community. Language makes it easier for children to organise their own emotional experiences, reflect on them and share them with others," says the psychologist. If children express their feelings in words similar to those of their classmates, conflicts can be solved more easily. The common language also helps teachers to form a cooperative learning group.

To mark the start of the project, there will be a training event for teachers and educational staff at the University of Kassel on June 16.
Participants can expect an exciting lecture, a selection of creative workshops on the topic of language and emotions, and a concluding discussion. During the break, there will be an opportunity to exchange ideas with other participating educators and to discuss questions about the project directly with those responsible for the project.
The event will take place from 2 to 5 pm hybrid.

All interested parties are welcome! Please register at kvoltmer[at]leuphana[dot]de and indicate whether you would like to participate online or in person.

The study "Fühlen Denken Sprechen in der Grundschule" (Feeling Thinking Speaking in Primary School) is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of the call for proposals "Sprachliche Bildung in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft" (Language Education in the Immigration Society) with around 350,000 euros in Lüneburg alone. The project is coordinated and led by Dr Katharina Voltmer, Prof. Dr Oliver Hormann and Prof. Dr Maria von Salisch (Leuphana University of Lüneburg) and forms a joint project with sub-projects at the University of Braunschweig (Prof. Dr Katja Koch) and the University of Kassel (Prof. Dr Miriam Langlotz).

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