Oral language is a key to reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Concepts about the world, vocabulary, roots of phonological awareness, the structure of language, and communication with others are also influenced by oral language. The brain is wired to talk, and it’s pretty amazing the way most children naturally learn to speak and listen. There is a dynamic interplay between nature and nurture. As educators we can’t do anything about genetics, but we certainly can create an environment where children are immersed in language. The fact that the family has the greatest influence on oral language emphasizes once again that parents are their child’s first and most important teacher!
Time, time, time! Oral language is not a snap shot, but a video composed of all the child’s experiences. I love what my daughter reminded me about a child’s unique development. She said, “They take it in and take it in and take it in, and then something comes out!” That’s true for oral language, as well as writing, reading, math, social, and motor skills. Children have to crawl before they can walk, and they have to do a lot of babbling, playing, observing, copying, and experimenting as they make language connections.
Most language (speaking and listening) is acquired indirectly. Children communicate long before they know words through their cries and facial expressions. They begin word calling and then imitate others as they figure out rules and grammar. Vygotsky’s theory of language contends that children acquire language as a result of engaging social experiences. Talking is a child’s way of affirming what she knows. It’s how children process all the information they experience in their daily lives. According to the experts, authentic literacy experiences, play, and social interactions are a MUST!
I recently had an “AHA!” moment when someone showed me how to download an application called “Dragon” on my phone. Press “record.” Speak. The text shows up surprisingly accurate and you can email it immediately. Mind boggling, indeed! However, it made me realize once again the importance of oral language. With technological advances in years (or months) to come, educators need to recognize the value of developing oral communication skills. Children need to speak in complete sentences, organize their thoughts, speak clearly, and use appropriate English to convey their thoughts. Otherwise, in the not so distant future when they use voice activated computers it will come out like, “Bla, bla, bla, bla, bla” on the screen!
If you would like to have printable copies of the files for the various parts of this month's activities, just go to the Downloads page where you will find links to all of them in PDF format. The activities pages have some extra buttons; you will find a Help button that explains the new features, and you will find a button that expands the presentation to full screen if you wish. There is a thumbnails option, too.
Don't miss the new Zero the Hero powerpoint download this month!