Sunday, December 27, 2009

Metalinguistic Awareness: Alliteration (video)

Metalinguistic awareness includes awareness of language at the level of the sound, the letter, the word, the phrase, the sentence, and the passage. Furthermore, metalinguistic awareness includes sensitivity to alliteration, rhyme, onomatopoeia, etc. Time spent becoming aware of these literary devices should theoretically contribute to interest in words, which in turn should promote vocabulary knowledge and ultimately, comprehension.There is not yet sufficient research to make this claim empirically, but the theory is sound (Nagy, 2007). 

Alliteration occurs when the beginning of each stressed syllable has the same sound (spelling may differ; it's the sound that matters). Remember Dragnet? Favored friends, in this flick Friday the fabled felon-finder fabricates fabulous phonemic fun with the famed Johnny Carson, speaking in fine form with a fairly unfathomable face. I found felicity in this fantastic phonfest. To watch the clip, go directly to MetaCafe: Copper Clappers.

Share the video with the class. Explicate the meaning of the passage and the alliterative words. Encourage students to work in pairs to write their own alliterative dialogue, sentences, or phrases. Verbalize. Let the room resound with the sounds of speech. With adjustment, this type of lesson applies across grades and content. Imagine an alliterative dialogue about Danny the Dinosaur, the signing of the Magna Carta, or the life cycle of a butterfly. 

As in everything, help the learner make connections across and within words and ideas. Example from video: Discuss how clappers, the swinging pendulum inside a bell, relates to the action of clapping hands. Making lexical links should help the learner own the word and develop vocabulogic. Discuss the word cop, slang for 'to steal' and link it to related phrases: to cop a plea, a cop out. Discuss what slang is, and how it is used.

Also visit World News: Alliteration. Or look up Peter Piper, picking pickles by the peck, and Sally, selling seashells at the seashore.

Enjoy the ever-exciting end of the year! (Vocalic alliteration begins with a vowel sound.) Got some alliteration? Please share!


  1. Caroline Surprise12/27/2009

    Hey! Happy Holiday! Hee-hee-hee! Hah hah hah!

  2. Congratulations! Alliteration is a clever concept for concrete classroom activities kids can continually use to keep developing their command of words!

    (Couldn't resist)

    One suggestion. Since many kids will lack the vocabulary to think of the words to make their own alliterative sentences - this kind of activity gives kids a reason to want to make use of a thesaurus. I can imagine an activity where kids in groups of 2 to 4 come up with a sentence, and then dive into thesauruses (thesauri?!!) to come up with words they can replace with the correct initial sound.

    Cheers, and happy holiday's all


  3. A cleverly contrived comment from the creative Peter Bowers! Quite constructive. Kudos to our comrade from Queen's University in Kingston, Canada!

    I enthusiastically echo and endorse your excellent advice! It's logical to use a thesaurus for this activity. Maybe the Visual Thesaurus would work, too. See the useful link in sidebar of blog. And yes, the plural form is thesauri, but thesauruses is also accepted.

    PS. Pete will author next Sunday's blog. It's sure to be good.


Comments are published after they are reviewed, to ensure they are not SPAM.