Oral Language Matters

Oral Language Matters: Emergent Language & Literacy Practices for Dual Language Learners

Dr. Sharolyn Pollard-Durodola, EdD
Professor in the English Language Learning Program
Department of Educational and Clinical Studies
University of Nevada Las Vegas

In Project Words of Oral Reading and Language Development (WORLD), we studied how to improve the instructional quality of emergent language (oral vocabulary) and literacy practices for Spanish-speaking preschool children while building a lexical network of content knowledge (science and social studies) important for future reading comprehension. Using empirically based instructional design principles, we collaborated for 7 years with preschool teachers who implemented an interactive shared book reading approach (English-intervention studies, Spanish intervention studies) in schools located in high-poverty geographical regions. In WORLD, we believed that equity begins with quality instruction for dual language learners (DLLs) who are dependent on the expertise of teachers to develop and extend their early language and conceptual knowledge abilities with opportunities for analytical thinking and talking in English or Spanish. Relevant questions addressed will include:

  1. What is the essential ingredient about book reading that impacts DLL learning?
  2. Is it important to understand if teachers are ready for instructional change?
  3. Is the WORLD approach sustainable beyond the intervention?
  4. Is the teachers’ language of instruction important for English vocabulary acceleration in preschool settings?
  5. Is there a relation between DLL children’s social competence skills and their early language and literacy outcomes in English?

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