PLUGGING THE EARLY LANGUAGE SKILLS GAP

An overview of my research, completed before and leading to the development of Wizzy's Words book, ebook and audiobook. Although Wizzy's Words evolved from observations of those children that were in danger of being 'left behind', I developed Wizzy's Words so that it will provide all children with an appropriate level of language support up until school entry and beyond.

Disparities in #languagelearninginearlychildhood led me to write modern #nurseryrhymes to fill the gap in #earlylanguageeducation

 

PLUGGING THE EARLY LANGUAGE SKILLS GAP

A literature review addressing the question:

Is the importance of language development from birth being overlooked?

Jacqueline E. Alexander*

 

 

As a primary school teacher, with a masters in psychology, my teaching experience and studies have made me aware of a deleterious gap between children’s school entry language skills.  Whilst accepting that some children may be born with or develop specific needs, the research question here is borne out of a desire to investigate and if necessary, find ways to address this early language development anomaly.

 

 

 

Overview

This review explores historical and contemporary empirical research, appertaining to the apparent presence of and effects of, children entering school with lower language skills than their peers.  Extensive evidence of a negative and life-long relationship between poor school entry oral vocabulary and educational outcome was found.  This evidence was examined in light of interventions aimed at remediating for school entry language disparities and highlighted the limitations of school entry remediation.  An inherent problem with the remediations examined, apart from Reading Recovery, appears to be a focus, even initially, on a child’s reading vocabulary development.  Indeed, The National Curriculum for English, values fidelity to a synthetic phonics programme underpinned by written, rather than spoken word frequencies.  This does not appear to be the best starting point for a child that enters school with a poor oral vocabulary.  The review findings, indicated that too many children are still being left behind and that the child entering school with a poor oral vocabulary will struggle to catch up with their peers’ language skills.  It is acknowledged that a range of factors influence language development outcomes and that much further research is needed.  Nevertheless, the answer to the research question posed: ‘Is the importance of language development from birth being overlooked?’, is that for too many children the answer is clearly yes.  The review findings indicate a need to go beyond reporting the effects of the ongoing language skills gap between children at school entry and develop materials to promote early oral vocabulary development from birth.

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*A full copy of the research is available from the author by emailing a request to - wizzyswords@gmail.com

Copyright © J Alexander 2020

 

Key words: language learning in early childhood, early language development, early language education, early language strategies for parents

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