This is the second of a four post series about “The Big Four” of preschool literacy instruction. These four components to a complete literacy curriculum in preschool are print awareness, oral language development, the alphabetic principle. and phonological awareness. Each post in the series will explain what each component is, why it is important to preschool literacy, and what teaching strategies can help develop these skills, as well as a list of books and games that help develop each pre-reading skill. This series is appropriate for all teachers, parents, and caregivers.
If you have missed a post, you can find it here:
What is the preschool literacy instruction oral language development?
Very simply defined, oral language is the acquisition of vocabulary that aids in meaningful speech and conversation. However, oral language development consists of much more than simply vocabulary. It also includes:
- phonology – the organization of sounds within an alphabetic language
- grammar or syntax – the rules that govern the structure of speech and writing
- morphology – a subset of semantics which considers the smallest units of meaning within a word, as well as how the word is formed
- pragmatics – the understanding of how language is used in social situations
- discourse – the act of communicating, in oral or written form
Why is oral language development important to early literacy?
Proficiency in oral language provides children with tools for thought. Without fluency in speech, children find it difficult to learn and interact with the environment around them. Like other emergent reading skills, oral language development is a strong indicator of later reading success. Children who enter formal schooling with large and vast vocabularies are better prepared to learn how to read, as well as better prepared to learn through reading and being read to. Children how have strong oral language skills tend to be strong readers and writers, as a trend that follows them throughout grade school.
How can preschool literacy instruction oral language skills be developed?
Parents, caregivers, and teachers play an active role in oral language development. Providing children with an environment rich in language will help develop language skills. This begins with adults actively listening to children in their care, as well as teaching children how to listen and respond to oral communication. one of the most valuable things parents, caregivers, and teachers can do to develop oral language skills to build the child’s background knowledge of various topics.
In addition, the following are some ways in which parents, caregivers and teachers can nurture language development.
- have meaningful and genuine conversations with your child or students
- model speaking kindly and respectfully
- ask open-ended questions
- encourage your child or students to explain what they are thinking or feeling, offer words/vocabulary when needed
- comment on ideas and objects in your child’s or students’ environment to encourage oral engagement
- read to your child or students, frequently and at length, every day and encourage a response to reading
- sing, chant, and recite rhymes and fingerplays
- teach your child or students how to take turns and how to respond (on-topic) during a conversation
- encourage question asking
- model thinking aloud, for example, “I wonder what would happen if…”
- use new vocabulary when speaking with your child or students and encourage them to use new words
- read aloud young reader chapter books to your child or students
What are some books that can help develop preschool oral language skills?
For your convenience, I have included some of our favorite books and products related to building oral language skills via affiliate links. Any purchase of these books goes directly to maintaining this blog. I recommend these books because of lyrical text that is vocabulary rich, or because of the rich and dynamic stories they tell. Yet, these books are still of high interest to young children.
For similar articles by Stay At Home Educator:
For further reading:
Promoting Oral Language Development by Audrey W. Prince, M.Ed.
Young Children’s Oral Language Development by Celia Genishi
Joining Oral Language and Early Literacy by reading.org
What are other products that can help develop oral language skills?
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.