Children’s oral language skills are the foundation for reading comprehension. Development of language skills before formal reading instruction begins can be a significant factor in reading success.

Rich Oral Language Enhances Reading Success

Oral language is the ability that provides children with pathways to thought. Without structured oral language, thinking and reading can be difficult. Students who lack exposure to rich oral experiences will need more explicit instruction in language to help them achieve success alongside their more verbal peers. In the preschool years, vocabulary directly corresponds with success in reading comprehension in the upper elementary school years. By kindergarten, a child should be able to retell events of a story. A first-grade child should be able to discuss how, why and what-if questions when sharing a nonfiction text. By third grade, children with restricted vocabularies have shown declining comprehension in later elementary years. Teachers and parents can incorporate more expressive vocabularies during all daily activities. Oral language development can also be encouraged by allowing children time to talk without interruptions and to allow them time to think about word choices when they are talking.

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