LAMiNATE Talks: Debra Myhill (University of Exeter). Language talk: the importance of metalinguistic talk about writing.
The importance of talk for learning, and how talk is a crucial resource for generating, developing and consolidating learning is well-known. Specifically, dialogic talk has been positioned as particularly significant in promoting learning and a rich body of research on dialogic, exploratory talk points to its significance in developing and securing student learning. Yet, few studies have researched the role of dialogic talk in the teaching and learning of writing, and how it can support developing writers’ metalinguistic understanding of how linguistic choices shape meaning in written texts. This presentation will synthesise findings from two studies, conducted in English primary schools, both investigating the development of metalinguistic understanding of writing through teaching grammar as a choice which shapes meaning. The pedagogy foregrounds the importance of metalinguistic talk about language choices, and explored how teachers managed this kind of talk in the classroom. The analysis will show how dialogic talk can support developing writers’ metalinguistic understanding of how linguistic choices shape meaning in written texts, and will present a set of ‘talk moves’ which might support teachers in extending children’s metalinguistic thinking about the language choices they make in their own writing, and help children become increasingly assured in ‘writerly’ decision-making.