Sunday, May 26, 2024

Language Differences

by Mark Warner
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Ages: 7-11

Recently, I had to prepare for an assembly for the Key Stage 2 pupils at my school. The topic I had been given was ‘Differences in the UK’. This seemed like quite an open topic, so I decided to focus on one particular type of difference… variations in the language.

As a person who has always lived in Kent, I’m not particularly aware of the regional words that people in other parts of the country might use. My wife is from Lichfield and is always using words I’ve never heard of… she says they’re real words, but I don’t always believe her!

Anyway, I struggled to find a useful list of regional words anywhere online, so I decided to ask my friends and followers on Twitter. I sent out a single tweet when planning the assembly, saying:

‘UK teachers: Please tweet your school postcode / a local/regional word that my Kent kids won’t know / the meaning? Please reply and RT. Tx’

What followed was an amazing hour in which my iPhone’s Twitter push notifications went into overdrive! I had a huge number of responses which I collected together. It was really interesting reading the different words which were sent back… most of them I had never heard of before! I then put the words, their meanings and the postcodes into a Keynote presentation which I could use in assembly. The presentation is embedded here, and you are welcome to download it and use it as a resource if you would like to:

During my assembly, I asked four children to sit at the front of the hall. When I revealed each regional word, they had to write down what they thought it meant on a small whiteboard. While they were doing this, I used Google Earth to highlight the place where the word came from.

Everyone really seemed to enjoy the assembly. The inclusion of real words which were contributed by real people (rather than simply borrowed from a list somewhere), combined with an actual place where that might have been used, was extremely powerful.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to send a reply to my tweet.

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