A step towards the understanding of language and print literacy is the early keystone for any child. There is a need to understand the concept of language and how the language development process starts in the mind of a child. Language is an organized system of human communication based on words, structurally organized to convey or deliver a message (Language, 2021). Humans have evolved over time, same as the language system also has evolved according to the needs of a particular community. In the development of the language, print literacy has played a critical role. Understanding print literacy involves knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing skills of that language. Both are interconnected in one way or another so it is important to understand print in order to comprehend the language (Bruke,1997).
In this essay, we will discuss the typical patterns of child development in language and early print literacy along with the concept of oral language, phonological and phonemic awareness, graphic-phonic decoding, and language comprehension that help children in better development of the language.
Role of oral language in print literacy
Oral language is a system of spoken communication and the foundation of literacy and numeracy through which we use spoken words and vocabulary to express our knowledge and understand the language better (Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: Introduction, 2021). Oral language plays a pivotal role in the fluent reading of the print. Reading independently, at a reasonable rate, and understanding what is written. Children develop oral language skills by listening however there are some children with poorly developed oral language skills when they come to school. Schools ensure children’s assistance to help improve their oral language skills. There is no quick fix for spoken language skills. In fact, it is an ongoing and long-term process (Language Comprehension, Encyclopedia.com, 2021). This oral language directly relates to print literacy, for example, if the child has heard a word before and understands its meaning, he is more likely to be able to read that word. That is why oral language skill has a strong relationship with the reading comprehension of print (Bruke,1997: 254-264).
Importance of phonological awareness in print literacy
Phonological awareness is basically understanding the sound system of language. Phonological awareness is the ability to understand the spoken parts of words and sentences (Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: Introduction, 2021). It involves understanding rhymes, alliteration between words, understanding the syllables, and segmenting sentences into words. When kids understand words, teachers help them form sentences from words and segment sentences to understand the meaning. For example, the teacher would make students clap word by word like I (clap) like (clap) banana (clap). So, in this way kids can learn segmenting, and when they learn that they can learn to identify syllables in the words like an elephant (3 syllables), children (2 syllables) and after identifying the syllables they can pronounce these words. Before the kids are taken to the next step, they need to develop the auditory skills to identify and process the words in their minds and express them orally. If we take print literacy as a building, then phonological awareness is one of the building blocks of that. Phonemic awareness, graphic-phonic decoding, and language comprehension are the further building blocks of the main building we call “print literacy”. Phonological skills are built over time and pivotal to decoding and spelling the printed words and in the long run, these skills result in successful print literary development (Oxbridge,2021).
Phonemic awareness could be described as the most sophisticated part of phonological awareness as phonemic awareness is the skill to understand sounds called phonemes in spoken words. This involves segmenting the words into sounds and combining different sounds to form words. Different methodologies can be used to help kids understand phonemes better. Lego blocks can be used, and kids will enjoy and learn to play with different sounds by arranging blocks differently. Phonemic awareness helps the kids’ difference between letters and sounds. Some kids lack the ability to mix different sounds but know the letter sounds, which means the kids are facing the problem of phonological awareness (Bruke,1997). Teachers need to interact with the kids to help them differentiate between letters and sounds clear. Phonemic Awareness is important in students’ print literacy development in the early years of schooling because under this skill a reader notices how letters represent sounds which give readers a way to approach sounding out and reading new words ( Bruke,1997).
Grapho-phonic in print literacy
Grapho-phonic is the art of establishing a relation between letters-words and sound words. This involves the use of grapho-phonic cues and helps to read and understand words by connecting speech sounds with letters and letter patterns (Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: Introduction, 2021). The use of grapho-phonic cues to learn words is called grapho-phonic decoding. Grapho-phonic decoding is the next step in the learning process for the kids. When the kids have attained a satisfactory level of phonological skills they are introduced to phonics (Language Comprehension, Encyclopedia.com, 2021). The first step of phonics is decoding, which is crucial to the whole grapho-phonics process. Kids learn to decode letters and sounds and form words ( Bruke,1997). This helps them build a letter-sound or sound-word relationship and recognize unknown words using this sound-letter relationship. Decoding helps kids understand new words and results in increased vocabulary. In contrast, if they are only taught sight word recognition it will not do any good to the students because it will be short term and the kids would not be able to understand and explore new and different words (Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: Introduction, 2021). Decoding words also helps them build sight word memory and learn the words more efficiently. Grapho-phonic decoding provides the necessary knowledge of sound letters and knowledge of letter patterns which help the kid to understand the written print. Many pieces of research have proved the importance of decoding for successful reading as grapho-phonic decoding lets kids explore new words by establishing connections between letters-words and sounds-words which ease children in Language comprehensive and Print Literacy development (Bruke,1997: 254-264).
Language comprehension and Print Literacy
Once the kids have learned all the above techniques it automatically moves forward to the next step which is language comprehension. Language comprehension is development in print literacy (understanding the meaning of the written text) and oral language. Particularly, it describes the ability of the student to derive the meaning from the written print. For a better understanding of the print, it is necessary to have language comprehension. If kids lack a comprehensive understanding of the language, very probably they would not be able to gain the meaning of the written text.
Language comprehension involves developing connections and relations between words to get meaning. Comprehension of spoken and written language is correlated with the ability of the kids to understand words, phrase meanings, and grammar. To understand what is written in the print, it is imperative to have background knowledge, knowledge of vocabulary, and sentence structure which is altogether called language comprehension. If the kid does not know sentence structure or doesn’t have enough background knowledge, he wouldn’t be able to understand the meaning of the sentence completely (Brule,2008). As the kids learn more new and complex words, they become more fluent in reading and understanding the meaning of the context. Apart from fluency, the rate at which they read also increases with the fulfillment of language comprehensiveness which leads to a better understanding of the print.
So, comprehension of the language is the key to reading fluently and it develops over a long-time in a child beginning right after birth and then throughout the lifetime. Before going to school kids learn from their parents and their surroundings. Kids listen to everything and process the information in their minds . This circle of learning language literacy starts from a spoken language which the kid learns from his environment, whichever language is being spoken in his environment he will develop oral skills of that language and this oral language skill will improve with time with a better understanding of spoken words. And kids will process this information to understand more and more words. This skill helps in the next step of language literacy which is phonological awareness. If a kid has developed strong oral language skills, he will be able to understand what is written in the text once he knows how to read.
All the above-discussed techniques are interconnected with each other. For example, if the kid has oral language skills but lacks phonological understanding, he is going to struggle in that area and will face difficulty in understanding the words and processing them to comprehend the meaning of the text (Phonological and Phonemic ( Ahmad, 2021). So, we need to take kids through a step-by-step process where we introduce them to new domains of language at the time suitable for them. By doing this, they will understand better and much more effectively. When the kid has developed language and phonological awareness, they are to be introduced to phonics and decoding. Kids will learn to read and understand words through graphic decoding that correlates with their previous knowledge of phonemes and oral language (Perte, 2016). In this way, they will be able to comprehend better what is written in the text and all of this will result in print literacy of the kids in a step-by-step process.
To sum up; Discussed typical patterns and skills directly contribute to a child’s print literacy and language development. Oral language, phonological and phonemic awareness, phonic decoding, and language comprehension are essential components in learning the language and early print literacy. They are the building blocks of language literacy and all these skills are to be understood and developed in the kids to develop language and print literacy(John,2015). If they lack in one or more, they would not be able to understand and comprehend the language. The main idea of this is to develop language comprehension and fluent reading in the kids. If the kid has developed these skills, he will be able to better comprehend language and read the print.
Oxbridge Essays. 2021. Oxbridge Essays | Essay writing services from professional academics. [online] Available at: <https://www.oxbridgeessays.com/> [Accessed 15 April 2021].
Bruke, D. “Language, Aging, and Inhibitory Deficits: Evaluation of a Theory. “Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences 52B (1997): 254-264
Encyclopedia.com. 2021. Language Comprehension | Encyclopedia.com. [online] Available at: <https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/language-comprehension> [Accessed 15 April 2021].
Reading Rockets. 2021. Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: Introduction. [online] Available at: <https://www.readingrockets.org/teaching/reading101-course/modules/phonological-and-phonemic-awareness-introduction> [Accessed 15 April 2021].
Understood.org. 2021. What is phonological awareness? [online] Available at: <https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/reading-issues/phonological-awareness-what-it-is-and-how-it-works> [Accessed 15 April 2021].