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Momma4

Informal spoken English in written compositions.

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Hi all, any tips on how to get my 9 year old to stop writing as though he’s speaking? We’re using FLL 3 and WWE 3. He’s exposed to lots of great literature and does enjoy writing but mainly in an informal way. 

When he’s asked to answer a question in writing it ends up feeling quite informal and he uses words that really aren’t appropriate when writing formally. 
 

Thanks x

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At this age I wouldn't worry about it, that is something I would address with a twelve year old who was not picking up on different registers for spoken and written language but with a nine year old I would just be happy he is writing. 

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I'm guessing he's about age 9 / grade 3-4 (if you're using FLL3 and WWE3)?

It that's the age/grade range you're currently in, frankly, that would be the least of my worries at that age. I would be focused on complete sentences and what makes a complete sentence. If he has that down very solidly already, then you might start including a revision stage into your writing from time to time (NOT every time so you don't kill enjoyment of writing!!), and that's when you can bring up the topic of "polishing" writing, and you could practice with a few sentences.

And I'd kept it light and informal, like: "The way we write things is more formal and a little different from the way we speak. Let's see if we can come up with some different ways of wording this sentence that would make it a little more formal like a written sentence, and a little less like it was a spoken sentence."

Edited by Lori D.
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Honestly, teaching kids to write differently from how they speak will mostly backfire, as they’ll learn to scramble to make their writing sound fancy. As they get older, their spoken voice will get much, much more sophisticated, and yet they’ll still be attempting to make their writing sound somehow different.

I’d talk to him about the goals of the writing and the potential audience, but I’d let him write in his own voice.

Edited by square_25
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Michael Clay Thompson makes the argument for providing children with quality non-fiction/academic writing for him to absorb and eventually model, so that's what I'd suggest.  Depending on your DC, you might have to explicitly point out the difference between academic writing and non-academic writing, or he might just infer the difference.  The good thing, as others have pointed out, is that you have time on your side.  I'd also argue that this could be developed by listening to (or watching) more academic talks.

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As long as he is using complete sentences, age appropriate grammar and mechanics and not using any "text speak" or local colloquialisms like "ya'll" or "you guys", I would just be happy that he is putting words on paper at 9 years old. He still has nearly a decade to work on his tone and voice. Use small bites to work on polishing his writing over the next 9 to 10 years and he will develop that more formal tone in his academic work. It is not something I would expect at all from a 9 year old though. Willingly putting pencil to paper and expressing coherent thoughts and ideas in a neat and orderly fashion is praise worthy at age 9.

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