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Speaking and Spellings for Teachers

Jennifer is a Canadian Primary Teacher working in a Primary School in Essex through Protocol Education. As a foriegner she reflects on learning "British Spellings" from her students, and how she's adapted to the differences in speaking while teaching for us in the UK. 

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Speaking and Spellings for Teachers
As teachers we are always striving to be the best version of ourselves. We try to present ourselves to our colleagues, parents, students and Protocol Education contacts as professionals. We do this by modelling everything we want to see from our students.
If we want students who treat others with respect, we must treat them with respect. Since we do not want our students hitting each other, we do not hit. 
When we speak with parents and colleagues we address them with courtesy and manners. We expect the best behaviour, reading and maths from our students and show them how to do this. We also expect high quality writing from our students and must therefore model this. 
Foreigners to the United Kingdom (myself included) often reflect on the nuances in our shared spoken and written language. 
In Canada, for example, we don't do “spellings,” we just do “spelling.” It can be difficult to learn the different ways of spelling words, but the best thing to do is simply accept there are differences and learn them. Both ways of spelling are correct, and therefore acceptable, but since you are meant to be modelling British spellings, try and use what you have learned. Should a student point out that you've spelled something wrong, simply smile and see it as a teaching (and learning!) experience for them and you.
Some differences I've learned, with the Canadian words first:
learned - learnt
spelled – spelt
caregivers – carers
curb – kerb
tire – tyre
orient – orientate
disorient – disorientate
apologize – apologise (some Canadians already use the “s” in many words)
burned – burnt 
dreamed – dreamt
One of the biggest obstacles teachers face is addressing spoken language versus written language. This is especially evident in geographic areas that speak English where the verb tense and subject do not match. For example, “we is happy” or “they was happy.” While it might seem obvious to you that this is wrong, you must be careful not to offend the people in the area you are working. After all, it is likely that most people from that area speak in a similar way and you are the one that sounds different. 
So how does a teacher, wanting the best from their students, model this?
I am sure there are many different approaches to this. The way that has worked for me is by explaining to children that there is a difference between spoken language and written language. And when they are at school, they are expected to communicate in a standard way which is understandable throughout the English speaking world. By doing this you are acknowledging that their way of speaking has value, but so does the written word. 
Ensuring that your subject and verb are in agreement when you speak is crucial as well, as your students will learn from you.
Depending on the age group, it might be appropriate to have an anchor chart as well, so students (and yourself) can refer to it when speaking and writing. Expect from your students that they will use the verbs correctly and continue teaching it when it is wrong. Now, having said all this, are you using the correct tense? 
Here is a handy refresher:
Present tense
I am
you are
he/she is
we are
they are
Past tense
I was
you were
he/she was
we were
they were
Related Blogs: 
A Canadian Teacher's Beginners Guide to the British Language
A Canadian Teachers Guide to UK Teaching, Part 1
Canadian Supply Teacher Conor: Almost Half Way

Tags: Jennifer, Canadian Teacher, British Language, Protocol Education Chelmsford, Teach in UK, Teach in Essex, Spelling, Speaking

Category: Australian Teachers

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