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Monday, August 18, 2008

Eleven Plus Language

It was only a few years ago that your ten to eleven year old was four years old.

A typical exchange could have been:

Mother: `This cup is big.’
Child: `This cup is big.’

Mother: `Show me the cup that is big.’
Child: The child touches the big cup.

Mother: `Tell me about the cup.’
Child: `The cup is big’.

Of course now we are talking about bright pre Eleven Plus children – who at four years old would probably have embellished the conversation.

`Tell me about the cup.’

`The cup was given to the family by Auntie Jean. She said that the big cup was her favourite because she used to be given extra sugar. I like drinking from the big cup because it has so much sugar.’

It is very likely that children who do well in Eleven Plus examinations will have a big vocabulary. It is even more likely that the children will have demonstrated that vocabulary a very young age. Children with big vocabularies are likely to be able to read a wide number of books. The earlier the experience starts the better.

A number of us will recall the experiments of Hebb Williams on animal intelligence in 1946. In one of the tests a dog is brought into the room while hungry. After the dog had smelt and seen the bowl, the dog was able to watch the food put behind a screen at the opposite corner of the room.

Both the pet reared and the cage reared dogs went immediately to the spot where the food disappeared.

After some trials the food was placed in the opposite corner,

The cage reared dog went directly to the spot where the food had been placed originally. The pet reared dog went to the new spot.

For Eleven Plus children to do well their minds will need to be challenged and enriched over and over. If the diet of weekly and daily Eleven Plus selection papers goes on and on then it is possible that some children will stop thinking and simply react to the questions.

Some parents, however, will continue to see the need to offer their children stimulating conversations and prolonged arguments. (All in the cause of good Eleven Plus results!)

After all an argument can start as:


Careful direction could ease the argument into:

“Oh brother dear. I am simply horrified that you thought the answer to number 23 was 8. After all to find 10% of a number simply divide by ten.”

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