GSW: Exploring Syntax with Kids

The idea for the Glottal Stop workshop was conceived way back when I was finishing my Master’s in Linguistics. In just two years, I had developed a whole new perspective on language, and found myself wondering why this treasure-house of insight wasn’t carried into the language classrooms. As an amateur linguist-turned-teacher, I saw my classes as a petri dish for all the theories I’d spent two years poring over. The first Glottal Stop workshop, conducted in 2018, was my effort at bridging the wide gap between language acquisition theory and middle school language teaching. And what a successful couple of days!

From learning the 44 sounds of the English language, to using the phonemic script to learn pronunciation, from figuring out the possible grammar and phonology of Parseltongue to creating your own language – the results were fantastics. These group of kids surprised me by truly thinking outside the box. We invented a language of pigs called Oinkio, a lyrical song-language spoken by phoenixes and a Minion language called Pocoloco.

By the end of the workshop, the kids were experts at basic syntax trees and left with a unique understanding of phrase structure and grammar. As I explained it to a parent, these strategies are for English what Vedic Maths is to Math. Through activities, games and projects, we covered the six main branches of linguistics and without even realising it, these young linguists were all set to explore language on their own.

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