Oral language, with regards to reading, is the development of speaking and listening skills that help assist eventual reading. Beginning as babies and toddlers, we learn sounds, meaningful parts of words, and syntax (word order) as well as function of language.

With speech and language delays, there can be difficulty in recognizing the proper use of language as well as difficulties pronouncing phonemes (sounds). If a student is an English Language Learner, and has only spoken Spanish prior to preschool, the student has a lack of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax (for example, they would say the “dog brown” in Spanish whereas we say the “brown dog”).

If vocabulary is limited, comprehension and reading will be affected. There has been estimated a 30 million word gap before kindergarten between children exposed to a rich language and children with a lack of exposure. If a student cannot recognize a word he or she is sounding out, one can see the difficulty this can cause when blending.

Key point: read to your children/students to help develop oral language. The benefits are far greater than a fun story time together.