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10 to Twins

By Jessica T

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About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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Then and now: words

Uploaded: Jun 29, 2014
Hi Readers,

I have a special treat for you this week. Tween T, my eldest daughter is on summer vacation and wanted to guest blog. I found her camped out in my bedroom on her laptop typing up this essay on Friday afternoon. As you can see, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Enjoy! -- Jessica T


When I was 3 years old, I learned the alphabet song.

A year later, I learned that the lyrics of the song were actually important, and were the letters of the alphabet.

In kindergarten, I learned the sounds of the letters. The teacher also gave us words that started with the same letter. We would chant: "Apple, apple, a, a, a, and the letter is called A," as my kindergarten teacher showed us the page of her ABC's book that had a big letter A and a picture of an apple.

Then we would move on to B, C, and all the letters of the alphabet. My teacher was careful to make the word that she associated with the letter, something we could relate to; such as and elephant for E.

That was the way I learned the alphabet, matching a letter with a word, in the school year of 2008-2009.

These days I wonder if kindergarten teachers have to find different words to match with letters. Over the years, common vocabulary has been shrinking. Or maybe it's just that we use different words. An example is that we use "happy", instead of "ecstatic". We tend to say "so…" instead of "therefore" or "thus".

I think this may be to make room for newer words in our cycle. Words that, in the day of my great grandparents, would have been considered gibberish. Take "selfie", for instance. Is it possible that we have to forget a few synonyms of "favorite" ( dearest, prefered, etc.) to make room for "selfie"? And in fact "selfie" is replacing the use of: "self portrait, photograph of myself taken with my camera phone." I don't mean that these new words are bad to use, but simply that we should remember to use good, flavorful words as well.

The biggest cause of why we don't have as rich vocabularies as people in the past did, is because this generation doesn't read as much as our grandparents and great grandparents did. Back in the day there were books, radio, and that was pretty much it for entertainment. Therefore they read a lot more than us. This would lead to a better vocabulary because, as teachers tell us students, "The more you read the more you learn."

I wonder if the teachers of 2014-2015 will have to say things to teach their students such as: "I is for iphone, L is for laptop, M is for microchip, T is for twitter... " The reason for this is the kids of this generation or the next will be more familiar with those words. Kids that are accustomed to having phones may have weaker vocabulary. We read less literature with rich words and like to read less. Fewer of us are taught by example to like reading books and literature. Over time we will talk more about computers, and not camels.

Comments

Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jun 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm

What a wonderful essay from your wonderful tween. She is completely correct on this and I am in full agreement with what she is saying.

I will go further and say that so much of the fiction that is popular today, that has been written in the past decade or so, is written with such a small vocabulary. Books are written about vampires and witches, dysfunctional families and underperforming high schools, superheroes and monsters, and in so many of these, the rich vocabulary of the popular fiction of my youth is diminished into lack luster prose. We have lost the wonderful literature of Dickens and Austen in our schools and replaced them with books full of slang and colloquial dialog which are not suitable for present day conversation or high school essays.

Thank you so much for this insightful observation.


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