The relationship between oral and written language has long been documented[i]. In fact, 40 to 75% of students with oral language difficulties also have issues when learning to read[ii]. Writing development is considerably delayed in students with oral language difficulties[iii]. These poor oral language skills often result in limited academic achievement in all subjects of the curriculum[iv], and such performance gaps persist during secondary and postsecondary studies[v], in all subjects.
Did you know that…
- About 50% of low-skilled readers in Grade 2 also experience difficulties in understanding oral language?[vi]
- There is an 88% probability that a student who has difficulty reading in Grade 1 is still failing in Grade 4?[vii]
- The presence of unresolved speech and language disorders at age 5 indicates academic[viii] and language difficulties[ix], including struggles with writing[x], reading[xi], learning[xii], and behaviour[xiii], along with antisocial behaviour[xiv] and decreased health[xv] and mental well-being[xvi]?
As a speech-language pathologist, I have always focussed on school-aged children. I worked for a number of years as an educational SLP, where my main responsibility was to assess students, provide information to parents and teachers, and support the special education staff.
Upon entering any school, I often heard staff say: “Yes, I saw so-and-so this morning, and I did 20 minutes of speech therapy with him…”
But what does “doing 20 minutes of speech therapy” really mean? I knew they were telling me that the speech and language goals set out in the Individual Education Plan (IEP) had been targeted, but my reply was always the same: “Speech therapy is targeted throughout the day, and in all subjects.” In reality, the appointment-based approach to speech-language therapy does not foster authentic oral language interaction.
But what if oral language skills were integrated throughout the day in fun and authentic interactions in all subjects of the curriculum? What would that look like?
The analogy of the hand[xvii] best describes the skills that appear to be the foundation of academic achievement, and the relationships they have with authentic language interactions. Every day, children use their hand skills to make meaningful gestures (i.e., greeting, applauding, taking, pointing). These skills are essential to their social fulfillment and potential to discover their environment. Likewise, authentic language skills are important for children to maximize their potential for academic success. Interactions with family members, friends and their environment give students opportunities to express themselves, make their needs and desires known, and understand the world around them. The classroom at the primary level is rich in authentic language interactions: it is the ideal place to develop skills in phonological awareness and vocabulary, discover word, sentence and text structure, and understand inference. Strong verbal skills serve as a foundation for academic achievement and help students go from learning to read and write, to actually using written language to learn.
An educational resource at your fingertips
A team of speech-language pathologists – with the support of the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) – recognized the importance of bringing together in one easy-to-use document information on authentic oral language interactions between teachers and students, to promote students’ academic success.
Oral Language At Your Fingertips is an educational resource that shows how oral language and literacy are linked and interact. It is founded on evidence-based practices and integrates principles of differentiated instruction, while highlighting the importance of developing strong oral language skills to foster written language competencies, thus promoting academic success. This resource is intended mainly for teachers and speech-language pathologists working in schools, but can be useful for keen parents looking to help their children maximise their language skills. Although it targets JK to Grade 3, it can be very useful for all those who work with older students at this level of development. Several of the strategies in the chapters dealing with text structure, or understanding and inference, can be applied to teaching students at higher levels of education.
A chapter on authentic oral language interactions in the classroom and language components that are essential to mastering oral and written language is presented in this educational resource. Chapters on phonological awareness, vocabulary, word and sentence structure, text structure, understanding and inferences, as well as teacher-SLP partnerships, deal with how to best teach these language skills in an interdisciplinary collaboration perspective.
Each chapter starts with a vignette illustrating the use of these strategies in the classroom in a playful learning context that is part of the student’s zone of proximal developmental.
Strategies targeting these themes are an integral part of this resource, and take into account linguistic and cultural diversity as well as distinctions between language differences and oral language difficulties. These strategies include suggestions for scaffolding (see excerpt on page 140, Table 7.3) to allow for the creation of evidence-based activities for all students based on their response to intervention.
Icons guide readers through this resource to enable them to quickly locate the information they need.
Canada’s dual linguistic reality
This resource is available in French and English. Given the academic reality of Francophones educated in minority settings, Anglophones in a majority setting, or English-language learners, both documents are distinct: the theories and research that lend themselves well to both languages are mentioned in each of the documents, but each has been adapted significantly to better target the linguistic needs of these separate populations and the different realities in which they live.
Strategies addressing each above-mentioned theme are included in the « Oral Language at Your Fingertips » resource. To order this resource, rich in information and evidence-based strategies, click on the .PDF icon.
English version: http://micheleminorcorriveau.com/theme1/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Bon-de-commande_LOPM.pdf
French version: http://micheleminorcorriveau.com/theme1/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Livres_2_Oral-language-at-your-fingertips_ORDER-FORM-for-OLAYF.pdf
Forward the completed order form to firstname.lastname@example.org. To benefit from the OSLA members’ rate of $25 per copy, indicate “Let’s talk about learning” on the purchase order.
Alternatively, click on the respective ‘pdf’ icons here http://micheleminorcorriveau.com/livres/
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[i] Billard, 2007; Callu, Jacquier-Roux, Ciannopulu, & Dellatolas, 2003
[ii] Bishop & Adams, 1990 ; Catts, Fey, Zhang & Tomblin, 1999 ; Catts & Kamhi, 2005
[iii] Gillam & Johnston, 1992 ; Mackie & Dockrell, 2004 ; Scott & Windsor, 2000 ; Teberosky, 2002
[iv] Knox, 2002 ; Stothard, Snowling, Bishop, Chipchase & Kaplan, 1998
[v] Johnson, Beitchman, Young, Escobar, Atkinson, Willson et coll., 1999 ; Stothard et coll., 1998 ; Pierre, 1992
[vi] Catts, Hogan, & Adlof, 2005
[viii] Aram & Nation, 1980; Loban, 1976; Paul, 2013
[ix] Aram & Nation, 1980
[x] Roy, Maeder, & Beley, 1992
[xi] Roy et al., 1992; Stattin & Klackenberg-Larsson, 1993
[xii] McCain & Mustard, 1999; Roy et coll., 1992
[xiii] Gaines, 2002; McCain & Mustard, 2002; Vallance, Cummings, & Humphries, 1998
[xiv] Stattin & Klackenberg-Larsson, 1993
[xv] Luinge, Post, Wit, & Goorhuis-Brouwer, 2006; McCain & Mustard, 2002
[xvi] Young, Beitchman, Johnson, Douglas, Atkinson, Escobar, et al., 2002
[xvii] Blaxley, Kyte, Leggett, McWhirter, & Minor-Corriveau, 2014