What is effective language development instruction?

Language development is a fundamental component of early childhood instruction. It is one of

three predictors of reading success, (the other two being letter knowledge and phonological

awareness). There are 26 Pre-k Guidelines that focus on the domain of language development.

That’s more guidelines than we have for letter knowledge, writing, phonological awareness, and

concepts of print combined, and more than there are for all areas of math! Yet the time that we

spend on language development in our classrooms does not always reflect its importance.

Rather than being thoughtfully planned, instruction in the area of language development is

sometimes random and spontaneous.

Research shows that in order for language instruction to be effective, it must be:

1. Intentional– The teacher plans experiences and lessons specifically to support language

2. Meaningful- Target vocabulary relates to themes that reflect students’ interests and

3. Rich with Opportunities for Practice– Students have multiple opportunities to

practice new words over time.

Teachers can support language development all day long –during centers, small groups, read

alouds, and in each interaction with a student.

How do you support language development in your classroom?

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