Connection to Reading

The National Reading Panel had very little to say about oral language, mainly because it is oral. But if we think about how we use oral language skills, what those skills are for, we see that they transfer directly to making meaning from text, i.e., reading. Oral language skills focus on learning how language is used to communicate ideas, which includes in text.

Think about something you recently read and then consider the following questions.

  • What writing style did the author use?
  • Was the writing casual or formal?
  • What types of words did the author use?
  • What implications did the author convey, beyond the actual words?
  • How did the author use sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation to communicate clearly (or not)?
  • Did the author write the way you would write?

(If you read a story with characters, you could ask these same questions about the way the characters speak. Not only will this contribute to oral language development but also it will contribute to increased comprehension.)

Did you try to answer the questions? If so, then you were analyzing text by using oral language skills. You applied your oral language skills to reading. We help students learn to do this, as well. As it turns out, not only do students strengthen their comprehension of the text but also they form impressions of the author’s credibility, character, and competence.

We use these skills when listening, and we can use them when reading. Whenever we help students analyze the way language is used in text, we are helping them develop and then use oral language skills.