Ways to Develop Oral Language in Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Classrooms

By Kathy Ha

“Language is a child’s most powerful learning tool”
–    Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

•    Talk with children throughout the whole day.
•    Really listen to what children say and respond to the message they are sending to you.
•    Expand on the child’s language in a natural way.
– If the child said, “I goed to see my grammy yesterday.”  You might respond by saying, “You went to see your grammy yesterday.  What did you do together?”
•    Read aloud to children throughout the whole day.
•    Encourage ‘turn and talk,’ a time when students talk with a partner about a relevant topic.  While reading One, Two, Three to the Zoo one might say, “Turn and talk to your partner about a time you went to go see animals.”
•    Sing songs with children.
•    Use every opportunity to talk with children about what you are doing.  While passing out snack you might say, “I am counting out how many cups I need.  One, two, three…now I need to get the napkins out….”
•    Provide opportunities for children to play.  They will take part in self-talk, talk with peers, and talk with the adult who is facilitating high quality play.
•    Engage in imaginative talk.
•    Ask open-ended questions, those that ask the child to respond with more than just one word.
•    Value the child’s home language(s).  The experience with a home language builds the foundation for developing academic English at school.

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