Oral Language: Conventions of Language

From Fountas & Pinnell’s Literacy Beginnings: A Pre-Kindergarten Handbook

Throughout the last several editions of The Curriculum Corner we have focused on the various lenses that accompany oral language development.  This has also included ideas for developing routines that support opportunities for students to navigate language through each lens.  As we continue to provide these opportunities, students will begin to “use language to communicate increasingly more complex ideas.”  Therefore it is essential that we are explicit as we model conventions of language.  This will ensure that students are successful as both “performers” and as active listeners.  In order to accomplish this, we must move beyond “raising hands” and allow all our students (even the 3-year-olds!) to interact with one another.  Of course we don’t expect our youngest students to master these skills, but if children have “daily opportunities [to practice], they will become aware of the kinds of talk that are expected in school” and in life.

One way to scaffold this as students participate in oral language activities is to develop anchor charts that show students what active listening looks like (consider the implications for oral language as you do this!).  According to Fountas & Pinnell this can include statements as simple as:

I will…

  • Take turns
  • Look at the speaker
  • Address my friends by name

As the year (and student skill) progresses, your “I will’s” can become more complex with the goal of promoting true student-centered dialog:

I will…

  • Add to what the speaker said
  • Ask a question about what the speaker said
  • Clarify or Summarize what the speaker said

While the initial development of your anchor chart will be a whole group activity, we must also remember the role that small group instruction will play in these routines as well!  This will certainly help us to avoid the typical “back-and-forth” questioning between teacher/student that typically takes place during guided reading, for example.

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1 Comment

Filed under Oral Language

One response to “Oral Language: Conventions of Language

  1. This is great! I’ll try it with my students!

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