The Language of Gratitude as an Academic Language in Kindergarten

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, but kept putting it on the back burner. Finally, I’m putting pen to paper!

As part of my inquiry group, I’ve investigated multilingualism and what it looks like in different environments around ISPP. I’ve come to believe that multilingualism comes in many different forms and academic language is one of its dimensions.

What is academic language?
Hrmmm…? Math and other Language specific subjects – physics, chemistry, genre related writing, subject specific text, etc.
There’s a lot of academic language…but…

What is academic language in Kindergarten?
Well, I believe it’s very student-constructed…but I also believe there’s a hidden academic for Kindergarten students…but also for EVERYONE! The language of gratitude.

Yes, the idea of gratitude (and simple manners, really) as a language is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about as we inquire into academic language as part of Course 4.

The language of gratitude:
Is it a language? Well, no, but it shouldn’t it be a taught part of any language/curriculum? I feel it is often forgotten or overlooked. This is why I’ve been putting so much thought into it…I’ve been SHOCKED on numerous occasions about how many students (and parents and even staff) lack manners when speaking to and with other community members. Below, you’ll see a series of photos from our own cafeteria in this video:

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 11.36.03 AMScreen Shot 2017-03-04 at 11.36.51 AM Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 11.37.28 AM

Perhaps the video is misleading of the general community’s lack of gratitude, but I fear it’s not. There doesn’t appear to be ANY exchange of words here…certainly not a thank you! I’m not trying to call out this particular student, either! Maybe she usually says thank you but was nervous on camera or was having a bad day – it happens. But when I’m in the café, and in monitoring my students at lunch, the lack of manners is consistent. It’s definitely a source of frustration for me.

What’s next?
I need to further analyze what academic language looks like in Kindergarten, but I will also continue to teach and enforce respect and manners in my classroom. But I want to do more to make this common practice at home for my students, across Kindergarten and hopefully beyond.

I want to design an orientation program – in conjunction with epicure, the cleaning companies and our Khmer teaching  and office staff – to implement a please and thank you program within Kindergarten. If, culturally, these manners are not expected in Cambodia by Khmer people, it’s our duty to prepare our students for future situations where they are expected. A little respect and appreciation goes a long way…and it can be done with a simple please and thank you.

Post SPELTAC inquiry group presentations, I will update with my action plan to educate and implement a manners expectation for our community. #schoolgoals #teachinggoals #whatgoesaroundcomesaround #respect

One thought on “The Language of Gratitude as an Academic Language in Kindergarten”

  1. Such an important part of language- thanks for highlighting this! To teach kindergartners about how we speak differently to certain people and in different situations is in itself a stepping stone on the mode continuum, I think. I think you could have a lot of fun with this. You could play different ways of saying things at the canteen and get them to reflect on how what was being said made a difference in people’s interactions. Why do we use may/ could I/ would you.. How cool would it be to do a mini unit on this? I’m game!

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