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3 Tips for Understanding Language at Blank Level 4

Why? Why? But why? 

We all know when the ‘why’ phase has landed as every other word seems to be ‘whyyyyy?’ and we often don’t really have the answers! 

This is how Molly found herself one day recently. She knew the time would come, but nothing had prepared her for how to deal with it, and it really was relentless. When we chatted, we discovered that her daughter Isobel probably didn’t understand the meaning behind this question and so we were going to have to teach her.

Blank Level 4 is the most abstract of the levels and although it’s not just about answering tricky Why? questions, this certainly does form a key part. Let’s see what Molly did to help Isobel navigate through the abstract language ahead of her: 

Tip 1 – Cause and Effect

A good place to start is revisiting cause and effect or a sequence of 2 events.

The first event causes the second event to happen. Molly began introducing this by narrating events during the day, such as, “I’m feeling thirsty, so I’m going to have a drink”, “It’s raining so I’m going to take my umbrella”.

Then she could talk about why she was doing things, such as, “I’m having a drink because I’m thirsty”.

Isobel quickly began to pick up on the way Molly was using ‘because’ to link her ideas and it soon began to creep into her own vocabulary.

Tip 2 – Make it Visual

It’s perhaps not surprising to see the visuals getting another mention, because they are simply the way 65% of us learn best.

Molly discovered that Isobel processed things much better if she could see what was going on.

So, they created practical cause and effect scenarios, then filmed them to watch and talk about afterwards. Molly would ‘accidentally’ knock over a drink, then they would talk about ‘why’ the table was wet… ‘because I knocked the drink over’, or ‘why’ were her trainers dirty? Because she walked through the muddy puddle!

The visual sequences were perfect for Isobel to work out the meaning behind this new language.

Tip 3 – It’s ok to not know!

Molly discovered over the course of the past few weeks that there was one more valuable lesson to share – that we might not always have the answer for every ‘why’ question, so it’s ok to not know.

By confidently responding to Isobel with, “I don’t know”, this led to supporting Isobel to do her own research, to try to find the answers in different ways.

This could be asking a different person, it could be going to the library to look for books, or it might be a Google search.

Isobel learned to accept this response and it also helped her to learn new skills too!

Learning language at Blank Level 4 can at first seem so abstract that it is difficult to teach, but by drawing on tried and tested methods of adding in visuals and videos, modelling new language and repetition, even this final Blank Level can be mastered over time.

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