The Collins English Dictionary (2015) defines literacy simply as â€˜the ability to read and writeâ€™ or as â€˜the ability to use language proficientlyâ€™. This essay will first discuss the theories of language and literacy acquisition and the steps, which children take to acquire them. It will then discuss the roles of the four strands of literacy education, reading, writing, speaking and listening as well as drama and role play across educational phases. It will go on to discuss the role of assessment for learning which influences the teaching and learning of literacy as well as the strategies used to help children acquire and develop language and literacy.
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There are various strategies used to model these methods, such as; community learning projects, weekly reading mornings, inspire days, group work, guided work and interactive sessions.
The socio-interactionist approach (Bruner, 1983) emphasizes our intrinsic need to be social and requires a Language Acquisition Support System (LASS), where adults promote and support the development of language. Sensitive verbal and non-verbal communication with babies and young children encourages positive interaction where the childâ€™s communication is valued and reciprocated.
This debate is likely to continue, however, it is apparent that children do acquire language remarkably quickly and therefore adults need to be aware of the significance of the role they have in promoting language and communication development (Callander, Nahmad-Williams, 2010).
Communication is key in helping form secure and loving relationships. There is evidence to suggest that a foetus can recognise the pitch and rhythm of its motherâ€™s voice when it is still in the womb (David et al., 2003; Kisilevsky et al., 2003). Studies of how the brain develops, known as neuroscience, confirm the importance of the first year or so of a childâ€™s life. At birth the brain is rich in potential but its millions of neurons (brain cells) are not connected at birth by the important neural pathways (synapses), which once developed helps to make emotional development and complex thinking possible. The crucial linking-up is triggered by the experiences and stimulation, such as; being cuddled, touched, fed, sung to and talked to, and played with (Whitehead, 2009). This emerging evidence has focused on the importance of practitioners providing the best possible learning environment during the early years.
Language is a key component for children in helping to regulate their own behaviour. As self-control develops around age 3-4 years, language becomes a tool in this, developing around the age 6-7 years into internal speech, allowing children to reason, problem solve, reflect and develop rule-governed behaviour (Kay, 2007). My experience has shown, that by modifying the language we use, keeping it short and easy to understand, supports the children and helps them to keep focused and on task.
By the time children are about 4-5 years almost all of them have achieved an amazing competence in at least one language (Browne, 2009). Studies of the vocabulary development of children have shown that the average five year old knows at least 2,000 words and may actually know as many as 10,000 (Crystal, 1987). However, the number of words that young children understand is believed to be far greater than either of these figures. As children gather their extensive vocabulary, most children will have mastered most of the phonemes or sound units that, by the time they go to school, their speech is mostly grammatically correct and children from English-speaking homes use all the basic sentence patterns in their...