Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Post 10: Language Development

Question: Theories in educational psychology promote the idea that language plays a critical role in cognitive development. Examine Table 2.2 (p. 51), paying particular attention to the age range that you are interested in teaching. consider how you might incorporate or adapt the strategies presented for use with your own students.

One aspect of language development that the table mentions only briefly (K-2 using age-appropriate storybooks, and 3-5 creating short stories) is exposing children to quality literature at all ages. Certainly many parents are happy if they can get their children to read anything (guilty as charged parent here), but selecting high-quality literature at every age greatly enhances both language development and speaking and writing skills.

In "Reading Aloud In Classrooms: From the Modal toward a 'Model,'" Hoffman et al (1993) write:
When students are exposed to carefully selected pieces of quality text...students are more likely to develop a long term relationship with literature. In addition, the benefits gained by children in language growth, critical thinking, and depth of response have been reported by researchers who looked into classrooms in which students met the best in children's literature. (p. 501)
I would argue that this is true at any age, grade, or developmental stage. And parents and teachers do not have to wait until students are independent readers to begin reading excellent and complex children's literature. Starting in infancy, parents can read aloud both picture books and more complex works to their children. In our textbook, Ormrod (2011) states that "[t]he richer the language that young children hear -- that is, the greater the variety of words and the greater the complexity of syntactic structures that the people around them use -- the faster their vocabulary develops" (p. 49)

An excellent place to start for choosing high-quality materials is with an award-winning book list like the Caldecott Medal awards for most distinguished American picture books or Newbery Medal for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

There are also countless websites like this one, which offer guidelines for choosing literature of your own to use in your classes, to select for your library, or to read with your own children. And, of course, there's probably a librarian nearby just dying for you to ask her for recommendations!

Reading Aloud in Classrooms: From the Modal toward a "Model"
James V. Hoffman, Nancy L. Roser and Jennifer Battle
The Reading Teacher , Vol. 46, No. 6 (Mar., 1993), pp. 496-503
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20201116

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