Language Use in a First Grade Classroom

ABSTRACT LANGUAGE USE IN A FIRST GRADE CLASSROOM by © Denise Findlay 2010 Master of Arts in Education Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners Option California State University, Chico Summer 2010 Frequently, in classrooms, the language that is used has an implied meaning which may not be understood by students. In addition, educators often use specific, common patterns of instructional language such as the initiate-respond-evaluate (IRE) format that generally elicits a one-word response or an answer lacking any depth. In this study, a microethnography was conducted in order that observations might be made that would illustrate the variety of communication styles and patterns in a 1st grade classroom. In this microethnography, it was apparent that situations occurred in which students might not clearly understand the use of certain language structures in which behavioral expectations were desired on the part of the teacher. Also, it was apparent that income levels were integral to the use of language. Those students with lower socioeconomic levels of income were erroneously thought to lack the language required to tell a story. This was, in fact, not the case. As well, a deeper understanding of stories was gained when first graders were placed in small groups and discussions related to the reading were more conversational than highly structured in an IRE format.