|Posted by meaningmatters on July 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM|
Written by Kim Turgeon
I believe that over the last decade the amount of time children spend talking at home and at school has decreased dramatically.
At home families no longer spend evenings sitting around the dinner table or living room telling stories about their day or talking while driving in the car. Instead they are eating on the go and watching DVDs while they drive from activity to activity. The hustle and bustle of our afterschool activities combined with the accessibility of technology (including hand-held video games and video devices) has taken away from the time available for quiet conversation.
In school, a focus upon time on learning and measurable outcomes has pushed time spent talking further down on the priority list. Opportunities for students to talk in class take time and given the little instructional time we have with our students, it becomes hard to justify devoting a significant amount of that time to talking. I would argue though that the time students spend engaged in academic conversations with their classmates is time well spent in developing not only oral language but precisely the high level of literacy that is our ultimate goal.
Why Is Time Spent Talking Valuable?
Before children can comprehend print independently we spend time developing their comprehension skills through listening to our stories. We read aloud to them. Before children are able to communicate their thoughts independently, through writing, they need practice organizing, sequencing and sharing their thoughts orally. Think of it as a rehearsal for writing.
Wilkinson (1965) introduced the term "oracy" as a way for people to think about the role that oral language plays in literacy development, defining it as "the ability to express oneself coherently and to communicate freely with others by word of mouth." He stated that "oracy is the foundation of literacy." This makes sense when you think about a young child"s development and his/her ability to listen and speak well before he/she can read or write. Children learn to manipulate their environment with spoken words before they learn to do so with written words. (Content-Area Conversations, Fisher,Frey and Rothenberg, 2008)
When given plentiful opportunities to both hear good language structure and talk more frequently, children become stronger readers and writers.
How can you provide more opportunities for talk?
In summary, don't be so quick to jettison the time spent talking...it will help your children gain a framework for their writing!