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Oral Language and Reading Skills: Literacy Learning in Early Grades

Voyager Sopris Learning
The Reading, Writing, and Math Intervention Specialist
Updated on March 7, 2024
  • Literacy Learning
  • Oral Language
  • Reading

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Language and literacy are a two-way street that is not always understood. Oral language abilities promote reading abilities and vice versa. As research has shown, early reading success loops back to oral language skills. Oral language is a biologically primary skill set, and reading, writing, and spelling are biologically secondary, so they need to be taught explicitly and systematically. Oral language skills are the essential engine children need to bring to school and continue to strengthen through their early school experiences.

As numerous cognitive psychologists have noted, we have a language brain, not a reading brain. We can acquire a reading brain, but most of us need exposure to high-quality instruction in the early years of school to do so. This distinction is critical to the consideration of how children learn in the first three years of school and beyond. Young children benefit from intentional play experiences as well as explicit, teacher-led instruction to support the ongoing development of language skills.

The EDVIEW360 podcast with Dr. Pamela Snow, noted researcher and respected reading expert from La Trobe University in Australia, will focus on oral language and reading skills and their interconnected nature. As Dr. Snow points out, children need to be exposed to more complex vocabulary and syntactical structures than everyday conversation provides. Decoding and language comprehension need to work together in reading acquisition and ongoing development, and there are proven best practices that support early learners. We all want to help students master the skills they need to become lifelong readers and communicators.

For students who do not learn to read and write proficiently, are we setting them up for academic failure, behavioral problems, and disengagement from school? Teaching reading explicitly and systematically requires significant shifts in teacher knowledge and classroom practice. 

We hope you’ll join us for the upcoming EDVIEW360 podcast with Dr. Snow as she discusses the interdependence of oral language and literacy skills development.

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