Showing posts with label Language development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Language development. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Role of Early Oral Language in Reading Comprehension

           When I was 18-years-old I was a volunteer tutor in an inner-city school. I wasn’t an education major—that came later—but I was intent on saving the world. I was excited about the idea of going into the city and working with elementary school kids who were growing up in poverty.

            But I was also nervous about it. I didn’t know a damn thing about working with kids, the inner city, or reading. A trifecta of ignorance.

            I decided to school myself the evening before my first day of tutoring, so I went to the university library and looked for some books on the teaching of reading. I found two that seemed pertinent and I checked them out.

            One was Rudolph Flesch’s Why Johnny Can’t Read and the other was Roach Van and Claryce Allen’s Language Experiences in Early Childhood. At the time I couldn’t have found two more separate takes on early reading: Flesch’s convincing polemic on the need for explicit phonics instruction and the Allen’s romantic homage to the role of early language development.

            It turns out I was also ignorant about philosophical differences. I was scrambling to figure out what to do and these books—as far apart as they may have been—were pointing me in practical, if seemingly incommensurate, directions.

            Now, 47 years later, with lots of knowledge and experience, I’m back to where I started. I no longer see them as incommensurate (again). Decoding and language, language and decoding… it’s like those television commercials: “tastes great, less filling” or “peanut butter, chocolate.” Sometimes the complementary just makes good sense.

            Recently, Chris Lonigan and I wrote a short article for Language Magazine. It’s focus is on “The Role of Early Oral Language in Literacy Development.” I think both Chris and I have bona fides in the “phonics/decoding/foundational skills” community and have the scars to show it. But we are both also advocates of the so-called “simple view” of reading—students need to know how to decode from print to language and they need to know how to understand language. This is a both, not an either/or.

            Here is a link to the article. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

More New Resources: Early Childhood Literacy

Recently, Chris Lonigan and I edited a follow-up book to the National Early Literacy Panel report. This book deals with literacy in the preschool and kindergarten years. It both summarizes the NELP report, but it also critiques it and extends it with new information. Click here for more information.

We also published a brief related article on oral language and early childhood literacy in Language Magazine. Here is that link:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Literacy for English Learners

Friday I braved the lake effect snow on the western shores of my native Michigan to meet with a wonderful group of teachers, coaches, and administrators at at professional development seminar on teaching literacy to language minority children: English language learners. I was to present both the Report of the National Literacy Panel for Language Minority Children and Youth and the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide, "Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades." Since I'd helped to author both, it was a nice combination.

I promised them that I would put up my powerpoint for this, so here it is. This is similar to some others posted at this site, but this is the first time that I ever presented the practice guide, so there are definitely new slides and new information.

You also might want to get a copy of the practice guide (or any of the other WWC Practice Guides--very useful stuff).