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Speaking and Listening

A Child’s Foundation for Reading and Writing
By Nancy Duggin and Reggie Curran

Oral language development begins from the first day of life and involves both speaking (expressive language) and listening (receptive language).

Early communication between infants and their parents and other caregivers involves gestures, facial expressions, babbling, cooing and even crying. Soon, babies develop oral language from these first experiences in communicating with others. Face-to-face interactions are critical to a child’s oral language growth. It is difficult to read or write a word you’ve never heard and do not understand.

Most vocabulary is learned through children’s experiences on a day-to-day basis. Formal language and vocabulary instruction will occur later in school; however, language learning (conversational skills) is hopefully being learned and experienced daily in the home.

Children say their first words between 10-18 months of age. Examples of these include: mama, dada, milk, more, juice, no, eat.

Children begin to use complex sentences by the age of 4 to 4 1/2 years. Examples of these include: I want to go outside and play with Julie. Daddy, can you bark like a dog?

As children grow older, they learn new words most effectively from reading and conversation. It is best to talk to your child about whatever you are doing; while shopping, you can compare items you are choosing them for your cart; while you are walking or driving, you can talk about what you are seeing as you pass by. Use descriptions for your children: the big, yellow, friendly, furry dog builds more words than just “the dog”.

At the dinner table, talk about your day, telling about the things that happened, putting feelings and descriptions on your activities. When watching television, talk about what you are watching, and encourage your child to use words to describe what he is seeing, too. When you read to your child, ask questions and allow your child to think about this answers, and to ask questions too. Conversations will help your child develop a larger vocabulary that will help him understand and be understood. The better vocabulary a child has, the better he will do in reading and writing, as well as speaking and listening.


Parents talk to children to help them prepare for things that might happen at school in the video above.


 Read this article called, "Students Must Learn More Words" to find out the importance of building vocabuary.

This site offers a free preview video on the importance of language development. By providing this link, we are not endorsing or suggesting the purchase of additional videos.  Just click on the language you would like to hear spoken in the video, and listen to the free preview video about why talking to children is important and what kinds of things you can talk about.  



Watch these videos.

Nourishing Language Development
Talking to your kids and Telling Stories helps them to build language skills that lead to reading skills
Talk to your children – conversation builds vocabulary and allows kids to practice words