Oral Language · Read Aloud · Vocabulary

Talking, Listening and Vocabulary Building

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For my first post (so exciting!) I would like to take a look at the importance of oral language (talking and listening) and building your child’s vocabulary. Research has shown that oral language and vocabulary development are key components to being a successful reader. They support thinking, understanding, making connections, communicating, and solving problems. In fact, the size of a child’s vocabulary in Kindergarten is the best predictor of their reading comprehension in Grade 3 and above. (Biemiller, 2001). It’s a big deal! One could even choose the words huge, or enormous!

So, what can you do to help you child’s language and vocabulary development at home?

  • Read books aloud to your children. Typically, richer and more complex words are used in written language than in spoken language. The more you read to children, the larger vocabulary they will develop. Kids tend to learn new words best when they are:
    • Hearing a word over and over, so re-read their favourite books!
    • Hearing words spoken by the important people in their lives: Mom, Dad, siblings, grandparents, etc.
    • Hearing words in a meaningful context – during conversation at dinner, in the car, while playing and while reading.
    • Not sure what to read with your child? Here is an excellent list of read aloud suggestions from Calgary Reads Resources 50-Books-To-Read-Before-You-Are-8 revised 2015Dec 12 (1)
    • Not sure how to read aloud? Watch this helpful video for some great tips
  • After reading, pick 2-3 new or unknown words. Explain their meaning, provide an example, and then have your child use the word in their own example. Try to use those words in different contexts throughout the week.
  • Try to ask open-ended questions that require more complex or complete answers from your child.
    • For example: “Tell me more about…”; “How do you know?”; “Explain why you think…” are better than questions that require a simple “yes/no” answer or a head nod.
    •  Wait at least three seconds for your child to give a response (this might feel like a looong time but it will help them come up with better answers)
    • “Strive for Five” back and forth exchanges between you and your child when discussing a topic.  For example:
      • Kid: “Swimming was so fun today!”
      • You: “That’s great! What was your favourite part?”
      • Kid: “When I jumped in the deep end at the end.”
      • You: “Whoah that’s cool, tell me more!”
      • Kid: ” I jumped in and could swim all by myself. I wasn’t even scared.”
  • Play “I Spy” with your child using words that describe an object’s position. (“I spy something on the carpet, in front of the couch, next to the dog.”) Expand this activity by playing “Simon Says” using directional words. (“Simon says put your hand above your head.”)

More to come soon. Please feel free to send me comments on topics you would to learn more about.

Miss I.




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