Reading To, Talking With Essay, Research Paper
The first acquisition of language for a child is oral, therefore when a child starts school they can speak and listen better than they can read. Consequently, it is important to have reading aloud activities in the classroom so the child may begin to associate oral language with written language.
Reading material near matches their already well-developed language ability in the sense that what they are able to read is limited by the mechanical skills of reading that they have been able to acquire. Their oral language use at this stage is far more advanced that the language of books in which they are taught to read. (Corson 1988, p.20)
Reading to a child helps them to familiarise themselves between the spoken and written word, particularly when the story is simple with words repeated. This enables a student to recognise the spoken and written version of a word Children realise that words and the things words stand for are separate, that language can be talked about as well as talked with. They grasp, although not at first in a conscious, analytical way, that language is a symbolic system (Ministry of Education [MOE], 1996, p.14).
When reading to young students the teacher needs to keep in mind several important factors including illustrations. Does the illustration collaborate the text on the same page or is there also another story happening with in the illustration? Teachers can draw children out by having them discuss and expand upon the drawings. This encourages development of their interpersonal speaking and listening skills as listed in the English in the New Zealand Curriculum (MOE, 1994, pp.28-29). Besides just listening to a story, they become valued contributors demonstrating that they are paying attention to not only the reading of the story but also to the storybook itself. A student who notices a detail in a picture or a diagram is attending (MOE, 1996, p.34).
As a child s reading ability grows, so will the complexity of the text that is read by them as well as to them. In addition reading for enjoyment, books are selected for older primary school children to provide information, for example a unit on sea mammals could be followed up with a book on the Great Barrier Reef. Resource or non-fiction books do not have to be boring, to prevent this the teacher should interject the reading of such a book with discussion where appropriate. This not only allows the students a break from a constant stream of text but also allows them to ask questions or expand upon the book s topic and points. An excellent way of having a student retain information and to think critically about the text being read is to have them ask questions as well as personally relate to the book or topic. This is defined for levels one and two in English in the New Zealand Curriculum as identify, clarify, and question meanings in spoken text, drawing on personal background, knowledge and experience (MOE, 1994, p.30).
Reading aloud to children can be more beneficial than silent reading. Words that previously ignored or inadequately understood when a child reads silently are much more readily comprehended when read aloud by a teacher. Many of the students with poor reading skills typically do not read during their allocated silent reading period or select books that do not challenge them. This is substantiated by Elley s (1987) observations The trouble with learning from silent reading is that many pupils do not read widely or quickly enough. The avid reader goes on growing, the slow reader gets left behind (p.36). Furthermore, when a teacher discusses the book the student s comprehension of new words dramatically increases. Elley s (1987) findings concluded It is clear too, that teacher explanations add substantially to the level of acquisition (pp.36-41). The discussion after the reading of a book regardless of subject matter or the student s age is just as beneficial as the reading itself.
Furthermore, discussion allows children to think critically about the text that has been read. The Ministry of Education (1994) states in thinking critically for levels three and four students should discuss and interpret spoken texts, considering relevant personal experiences and other points of view (p.30). As students discuss the spoken text it helps them to process the story or topic as they tell the group about their perceptions as well as listen to others thoughts and ideas. Pupils will hear a diverse range of opinions and will realise that everyone is different. Students self esteem not only improve as they contribute but so will their respect of other peoples ideas and beliefs, in turn helping to broaden each individual s values and viewpoint. Books offer children more than entertainment and escape. They give children a means of coping with life (Cowley, 1988, p.33).
The inclusion and integration of children from other cultures will also help to broaden a child s perspective. The teacher needs to make sure that they include children that have English as their second language in a way that is tactful and does not make the child feel uncomfortable. Some children come from families where literacy is valued; others who do not have this experience may have a family with rich oral resources. The role of the teacher is to be aware of these differences, to be sensitive to them (MOE, 1996, p.18). The use of bilingual books allows the child to feel comfortable as they can see their own language as well as the English version. Bilingual texts present parallel versions of stories (MOE, 1985, p.95). This also allows the English-speaking children to compare their written language with another s.
Reading to a class should not just be limited to story and textbooks, children should be introduced to song lyrics, poetry, reports, reviews even lists of instructions. Language, oral and written is wide-ranging as it is found in most other subjects hence students will need to become familiar with different forms of text to be successful. English is unique as a learning area in that is both a subject in its own right and the major vehicle for learning in other subject areas (Jones, 1996, p.2). As Elley (1987) remarks A rich vocabulary is a valuable asset and an important attribute of success in any walks of life (pp.36-41). In conclusion, the importance of oral language development in the classroom will benefit the child in the real world , where an excellent grasp of literacy is an essential tool in life.
Corson, D. (1988). Oral Language Across the Curriculum. Avon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.
Cowley, J. (1988, January 16). The healing power of language. New Zealand Listener, 31-33.
Elley, W. (1987). How do children learn new vocabulary. Reading Forum NZ, 2, 36-41
Jones, P. (1996). Language and learning. In P. Jones (Ed.), Talking to learn (pp.1-10). Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association.
Ministry of Education (1985). Reading in Junior Classes. Wellington: Learning Media Limited.
Ministry of Education (1994). English in the New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media Limited.
Ministry of Education (1996). The learner as a reader: Developing Reading Programmes. Wellington: Learning Media Limited.