Researching education: Five further readings on oral language

Welcome to this month's edition of Researching education: Five further readings. In this series, we take a look at some further readings available on a particular topic, including open access research papers from various online databases, and Teacher archive content you might not have come across yet.

Why is language development so important in the early years? What does optimal language development look like? And, how can we best assess language development? In this edition of Researching education: Five further readings, we share five resources from around the world which investigate the development of oral language in the early years.

  1. Supporting rich conversations with children aged 2-5 in Early Childhood Education and Care within Australasian studies. This systematic review from the University of Queensland presents a summary of key research on how rich conversations are promoted with children. From the papers identified by the research team, two themes emerged: how educators create opportunities for children’s contributions to conversations; and how educators respond to children’s contributions to encourage rich conversations and engagement. The researchers dissect these themes in more detail in their report.

    This report is featured in the Cunningham Library Catalogue. You can browse all the resources available on the topic of oral language in the catalogue here.

  2. Relating students' spoken language and reading comprehension. Here, Ann Daly from the University of New England shares her findings from interviewing students on their comprehension of texts in the New South Wales Basic Skills Test. In these interviews, Daly analysed the vocabulary and sentence structures used by the students, who were in Year 3 and Year 5. ‘… Significant correlations showed there was a relationship between the students’ reading comprehension scores and complexity in both their spoken words and sentence structure,’ the report reads.

    This report can be found in EdResearch Online, an online database that contains hundreds of articles from Australian education journals, some of which are open access. You can access resources available specifically on oral language here in EdResearch Online.

  3. Teaching Reading: Why the “Fab Five” should be the “Big Six”. This paper looks at the five key elements identified by the Report of the National Reading Panel to be essential for the development of reading skills, and argues that a sixth element focusing on oral language and early literacy experiences should be included. ‘The pervasive influence of a child’s early experiences on future reading achievement must be understood if teachers are to maximise the opportunities of all children to become independent readers,’ the report reads.

  4. Classroom promotion of oral language. This resource outlines a trial study conducted by the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, which looked at the impact of teacher-led oral language promotion on child language, literacy and mental health. There is already one research snapshot, Helping teachers to improve children’s oral language and literacy skills, and multiple journal articles that have been published from this research so far. There are also journal articles in progress which are due for publication soon.

  5. The importance of oral language and its implications for early years practice: A report to Goodstart Early Learning. To investigate how to maximise language outcomes for early years students, this report looks at why language development is important in the early years, what optimal language development looks like, and how to best assess language development. The Communication Trust, a coalition of over 50 non-profit organisations that works to support children on their speech, language and communication, is mentioned in this report. They’ve published a range of early years resources and a top tips for developing talk.

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