Language skills are the building blocks for reading and literacy skills. Not only is literacy heavily dependent on language skills, it also is dependent on cognitive skills. There are some children who will struggle to grasp what the reading comprehension is about because of limited vocabulary. We want to share the foundational skills required for reading comprehension and what must be done to support the comprehension of reading material.
Written text includes paragraphs, sentences and words. For children to understand those written words, they need to have the understanding of the word in oral language. They need to have had exposure to that word in their own real lives. They need to know what that word means and how it can sometimes have alternative meanings. They need to be able to analyse the written text. The prime indicator for a child’s success in school is how many words the child’s knows. The more words he knows, the easier it is for him to understand the reading material. The vocabulary level the child brings to school is an indicator of how much they can then learn in that setting. The more words a child knows the more she can learn. Reading skills are dependent upon on language skills as well as other skills within the reading rope such as phonological awareness (Scarborough, 2001).
Children can only successfully achieve reading skills if they can use and understand the words they are reading. Asking a child to read difficult text and words they do not know is like asking a child to tie their shoe lace before they can even put them on! Consequently, answering any type of reading comprehension question about the text will be difficult for them.
Educators play a key role in supporting language as they are, like parents, around children lots. We know from research that the environment the child is in, is critical to their language learning potential. Here are some tips that can be used to support oral language development that in turn will support reading comprehension skills.
- Dedicating time to reading aloud daily. Through reading stories you are filling children with the background knowledge to understand things that aren’t in their neighbourhood- like whales, locomotives or the rainforest (Trelease, 2008).
- Explain the meaning of new words.
- Make sure to relate the new word to the child’s everyday experiences (where you can)
- Encourage the use of the new word throughout the day
- Model nice examples about how to use this new word in appropriate sentences throughout the day