Language Teaching and Literacy Development

How effective teachers support the youngest children’s literacy development

A teacher is significant in influencing a child understanding of a language. Annandalen (2010) indicate that in invoking a child’s interest in learning, a teacher needs to find an enthralling story to captivate learners’ attention; thus, through this, learners are able to gain familiarity with written language. Similarly, through reading, a teacher helps learners record unfamiliar words because he/she is involved and share’s learner’s own experimental predictions (Annandale, 2010).

Teachers play a key role in teaching phonics to learners. Broaddus and Worthy (2001) shows that a teacher ensures learner move from just seeing to understanding what is being read. Annandale et al (2005) further explains that all learners are not the same, thus; some learn phonics principles easily whereas others take some time. Hence, a teacher’s knowledge of understanding a child’s learning difficulties is critical in supporting and monitoring learners in learning language (Clark, 1976).

In learning a language, Tompkins et al (2012, p.101) mention that children move through three key stages of development. He outlines these stages as; emergent, beginning and fluent. These stages influence a child’s learning and writing abilities. Tompkins et al (2012, p.101) notes that a teacher’s role in these stages is to monitor each child development, and accord essential learning needs that meet his/her development stage. According to him, understanding a child stage of development assists in devising strategies, which meets that level (Tompkins et al., 2012, p.102).

In learning a language, code breakers are indispensable. Strickland and Schickedanz (2004) illustrates that a code breaker entails a learner recognizing marks on the page in print and non print text. These marks are varied, and they range from visual, semantic to gestural and spatial. Though Strickland and Schickedanz (2004) indicate that they are essential to recognize, they are not sufficient in extracting a meaning from the text. Therefore, teachers should apply effective strategies so as to help learners understand the language they are being taught (Wilson & Scanlon, 2011).

Meaning maker is critical in aiding learner’s understanding of a reading. Ediger (2001) illustrates that to extract a meaning from a story a reader needs to read carefully in order to draw an inference. Readers should also synthesize their background knowledge with the author’s hint that leads to inference. Dorfman and Capeli (2007) admit that when readers draw inferences, they have an opportunity to apprehend the meaning not clear from the text, but which derives from it.

When teaching about language, a teacher must be aware of the texts purpose (Juel, 1988). This will allow him/her to translate the same to learners. For example, if the text is a set of instructions, a teacher has to read it carefully; otherwise, he/she will not be able to accomplish the task the text is directing him/her to do (Juel, 1988).

Text analysis is reading critically. Ediger (2001) illustrates that reading is one aspect of taking input from a language; it is more effective because the more a person reads, the more he/she is exposed to lexicons, syntax and punctuation of the language; this ultimately helps him/her internalize the language and reinforce the ability of his/her language skills.

Wilson and Scanlon (2011) indicate that contextualizing some words makes children remember easily when they are used again. For example, using word order, making words, alphabet and other phonics and literary board games with other classmates enhances a child’s understanding of words (Dorfman & Capeli, 2007).

Great ideas of language teaching

Mrs. Firpo uses an oratory activity in her phonics lessons. She views that it is essential to integrate phonemic awareness with phonics when teaching language skills. During oral activity, she allows children to focus on segmenting and blending the sounds they hear in words. She also allows children to take turns while practicing words which sound almost the same. She does this to enable learners differentiate words, which are similar but which holds a different meaning (Tompkins et al., 2012).

Also, Mrs Firpo has a created a focus wall where she posts skills, strategies, vocabulary words and spelling, with the required skills. She writes vocabulary on cards and attaches them on the focus wall. This is to facilitate their use in various class activities. She also uses the focus wall to ensure appropriate coordination is in place besides simplifying tracking of learner’s progress.

Mrs. Firpo also keeps Houghton Mifflin Reading (Tompkins et al., 2012). This is a basal reading textbook series. It assists her in identifying a topic and learning outcomes.

Mrs Firpo acts as a guide for her learners. She guides them as they progress with their tasks in the workbook. Through her guidance, children are able to reinforce their comprehension skills, spelling and phonics concepts, writing, grammar and vocabulary. She also takes her children through guided reading groups. Because her children age varies, she has divided them into four guided groups. She meets two groups each day. In these groups, children practice spellings; word pattern using magnet letters and read e-books interactively using the computer (Tompkins et al., 2012, p.103). She also supports children to write clear sentences. She shows learners how to construct a sentence with a capital letter and a full stop at the end. When children do it properly, she congratulates them; thus, this motivates them.

Also, Mrs. Firpo reviews children work. She has divided reading and writing program to fit each week’s lesson; hence, this leaves her with more time to review each child progress and the some aspect of the lesson. For example, she reviews how to use commas in friendly letters, thus; this enables children to identify mistakes of commas in their work written (Tompkins et al., 2012). Also, she allows other children to read loudly their colleagues work. She does this to ensure mistakes done by other learner’s are recognized to ensure others do not repeat the same mistakes.

The teaching of grammar by Tompkins and Derewianka

Tompkins shows that a grammar teacher should begin teaching grammar by introducing learners to parts of speech (Tompkins et al., 2012). However, a teacher should be careful on the role, and syntactic patterns of part of speech he/she is using in the sentence.

This is in contrast with Derewianka who notes that a child learn how to use grammar by engaging in purposeful and extensive reading, viewing, writing, talking and listening. For non native speakers, they come to school with a fully developed language; hence, this simplifies learning language skills (Derewianka, 2011).

Tompkins demonstrates that a better understanding of the purpose of determiners, conjunctions, prepositions and pronouns are critical; hence, a grammar teacher should know how to use them effectively when teaching grammar (Tompkins et al., 2012).

Derewianka points out that as children’s attend school; their language proficiency continues to evolve as they constantly use it for a variety of purposes. He explains that classroom allows children to learn a language in different ways (Derewianka, 2011). Thus, a teacher is required to formulate plans and contextualize activities in all curriculum areas. This will provide opportunities for children to develop language skills to assist them participate effectively in the classroom. On the other hand, Tompkins points out that a teacher should explain how vocabulary and linguistic parts of speech function together. He/she should use the conceptual definitions paired with the proper terms until the children understand without confusion (Tompkins et al., 2012).

Derewianka indicates that a teacher can build on the child’s implicit knowledge about the language; this will make it more implicit. The role of a teacher in this case is to provide children with tools for reflecting on how the language works. Through this tools, a teacher and a child develops a shared understanding about the language. He notes that shared activities and guided reading enables a teacher to focus on how language is functioning (Derewianka, 2011).

Derewianka shows that when a teacher selects certain texts, focus on pertinent features and ask specific questions, he/she draws a learner’s attention to ways in which a language is being used. Thus, a teacher should devote attention on the ability in creating, appreciating and evaluating text when teaching grammar. Similarly, teaching grammar should not be onerous (Derewianka, 2011). A teacher should combine creativity and playfulness to enhance recognition and experimentation, wonder and enjoyment. This is because children are thrilled with passion; hence, it is a responsibility of the teacher to strengthen this.

My grammar competency is moderate. Though I encounter some challenges in areas such as using pronouns, sentence structure and commas, I have consistently strived to improve on them. Thus, to accommodate this challenge and be an exemplary teacher of grammar, I will adopt some of the Tompkins strategies. I will attempt to understand the functions of the grammatical parts of speech such as pronouns and prepositions; I will also extend my competency on vocabulary words in English such as adverbs and learn more on how vocabulary and grammatical parts of speech functions together.

How to help students become fluent readers

Clark (1976) indicates that learners focus or devote a little amount of attention to any given cognitive activity and that this creates difficulty in giving other activities attention. In reading, for instance, comprehension and word recognition competes for a learner’s attention, hence, the more attention a reader accord to identifying words, the less attention is left for comprehension. The most important link between comprehension and cognition is fluency. Broaddus and Worthy (2001) illustrates that “fluent readers can easily recognize words and focus their attention on understanding”. Also, they connect ideas in the text and their background information. Hence, Tompkins et al (2012) shows that fluent readers have the ability of recognizing words and comprehending instantly. However, struggling readers should be more focused on identification of words. This is because they are unable to identify words easily, miss some words or read word-by-word. Goswami and Bryant (1990) points out that a reader’s fluency develops slowly and through broad reading practice.

The “ability to read fluently surpasses the mere act of determining the meaning of the sentences and deciphering the phonics of each word” (Goodman, 1987). Lack of fluency, makes the learner to dedicate much of their time on understanding without understanding the meaning in the text. (Goodman, 1987). Goodman (1987) suggests that to avoid this situation, a teacher need to employ different strategies.

One method, which I will adopt, is model reading. Model reading helps a teacher to model a learner’s reading behavior. A teacher embracing this method reads a story loudly to the class and is able to determine what fluent reading sounds are, this enable him/her to put emphasize in the story. A teacher can also expose learners to an array of reading materials which have different genres and writing styles (Wilson and Scanlon, 2011).

Also, I will include repeated reading. This is a strategy that requires a learner to read a story several times, until he/she is able to read it expressively and effortlessly. Winch et al (2011) suggest that repeated reading is more beneficial to learners with ability to recognize words easily but reads slowly. I will start begin by reading short stories, and keeping track a learner’s process by assessing how fast the learner’s read the stories with each repeated reading.

Wilson and Scanlon (2011) emphasize that choral readings is vital in teaching learners fluency. When embracing this strategy, a teacher is required to read with learners ten to fifteen minutes daily. During this session, a teacher is required to point to the word as he/she reads it and encourages the learner to keep their eyes on the word as they read them aloud together. Winch et al (2011) illustrates that because learners spend minimal time decoding, they can focus on the flow of words and the intonation.

References List

Annandale, K. (2010). Writing Map of Development: Addressing Current Literacy Challenges. London: Rigby Heinemann.

Annandale, K., Bindon, R., &d Handley, K. (2005). Reading Map of Development. Perth: STEPS Professional Development & Consulting awareness.

Clark, M. (1976) Young fluent readers: What can they teach us? London: Heinemann.

Goodman, Y. (1987). Reading miscue inventory: Alternative procedures. New York: Richard Owen.

Goswami, U., & Bryant, P. (1990). Phonological skills and learning to read. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Broaddus, K., & Worthy, J. (2001). Fluency beyond the primary grades: From group performance to silent, independent reading. The Reading Teacher, 55, p 335.

Derewianka, B. (2011). A New Grammar Companion for Teachers. Primary English Teaching Association Australia difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Dorfman, L.R., and Capeli, R. (2007). Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing through Children’s Literature, K_6.Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Ediger, A. (2001). Teaching children literacy skills in a second language. In M. Celce- Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

Harp, B. (2000). The handbook of literacy assessment and evaluation. Massachusetts: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc.

Juel, C. (1988). Learning to read and write. A longitudinal study of 34 Pre-school: Working with letters, words, and beginning links with phonemic Psychology, (80), 437-447.

Strickland, D. S., & Schickedanz, J. A. (2004). Learning about print in Pre-school: Working with letters, words, and beginning links with phonemic awareness. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Tompkins, G. E. (1997). Literacy in the 21st century: A balanced approach. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Tompkins, G., Campbell, R., & Green, D. (2012). Literacy for the 21st Century. A Balanced Approach. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

Wilson, A., & Scanlon, J. (2011). Language Knowledge for Primary Teachers. Brighton :Taylor & Francis.

Winch, G., Ross, R. J., Holliday, M., Ljungdahl, L., & March, P. (2011). Literacy: Reading, Writing and Children’s Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.