From Talk to Writing

“From Talk to Writing” is a BCL project in collaboration with Education colleagues and Fonthill Primary School.

The Sounds Bristolian initiative launched in 2015 by UWE Bristol’s Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL) set out to chart and celebrate the range of different languages and language varieties spoken in Bristol, including Bristolian.

The current project, funded by the UWE Bristol Community Fund, brings together researchers in BCL; eight student volunteers from both the Departments of Arts and Cultural Industries (English Language and Linguistics) and Education and Childhood; primary teachers and pupils to develop activities around the languages, dialects and accents of Bristol, and how these can be translated into written English. Insights from research and publications by academics in BCL will be drawn upon to inform materials development.

In Bristol's primary schools, there is a conflict between the aims of the personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum and those of the national curriculum for English. In PSHE, teachers and pupils are called upon to celebrate difference and for the pupil to be ‘me in my world’ – this celebration includes speaking different languages or varieties of English at home and in the playground. The English curriculum, on the other hand, requires that pupils ‘(speak) and write in Standard English’. Student volunteers will support teachers in helping students to value their own variety, to recognise register and how it changes according to context and mode of delivery (e.g. informal spoken, formal spoken, text message, written document), and to develop their writing in Standard English.

Outcomes from the project will include a colourful poster celebrating register differences and learning activities which will be piloted in primary classrooms, revised and published in hard copy format and online.

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