ORACY. Do all staff know what they're talking about?

I once watched a teacher talking to a class about writing. 'You need to talk posh when you write,' he said. The children groaned. 'We don't want to talk posh sir.' He meant well but he had confused Standard English with RP (received pronunciation) and his comment had a negative reaction. If the school had discussed talk, then this would not have happened. I am indebted to the fantastic work of the late Prof Ron Carter of Nottingham University for the following definitions which I found and continue to find useful. Teachers will probably be familiar with these terms but many staff who communicate with children in school may not have had an opportunity to consider these distinctions - leading to mixed messages about oracy. Ron Carter was a pioneer in encouraging the equal treatment of regional accents and dialects alongside Standard English. So what is the difference between accent and dialect and between RP and Standard English? Here goes: ACCENT refers to the pronunciation of words. A regional accent is an accent spoken in a particular geographical region. DIALECT is different from accent. It refers mostly to vocabulary, idioms and grammar and often refers to that spoken in a particular geographical area. RP (received pronunciation) is a region-less accent, which does not indicate a speaker's regional origin. It is sometimes known as BBC English, Oxford or public school English. Standard English is a dialect. It is not regionally based. People from all over UK use it. It has distinctive features of grammar, vocabulary, spelling and punctuation BUT NOT OF PRONUNCIATION. Standard English can be spoken with any accent. We use Standard English in writing. The terms Standard English and RP are often confused because the use of RP almost always implies the use of Standard English. In my next blog I will share some of the fascinating things I learnt from Ron Carter about spoken grammar.

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