Oral language was, is, and always will be the foundation of literacy. But instead of children’s oral language improving, it is decreasing. More children than ever need speech and language intervention. Why? You can probably answer that for yourself. Children are spending too much time in front of a screen passively listening. Over and over again the research emphasizes the importance of “authentic play” in developing oral language skills. So, what do we do? Take blocks and dramatic play out of kindergarten and fill up the day with worksheets, tests, and PPTs.
The children in your classroom will probably have voice-activated computers by the time they reach high school. So what? Well, if they can’t speak a complete sentence clearly what you will see on the screen is goobledy gook @#$#4(*&%^&*!!! The fact that Common Core State Standards included “Speaking and Listening” further suggests the need to promote oral language in our classrooms. Take a look at my February, 2012, monthly activities and I hope you’ll find some meaningful, playful, and practical ways to nurture “talkers” in your classroom.