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.
Julie Alice Huson is a parent and an educator with a Master of Science in education. She has more than 25 years of teaching experience, and has written educational materials for Colonial Williamsburg. She has also worked in consultation with the California Department of Education. Huson received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching in 2011.