How is spoken language linked to reading?
Child Hears and learns Phonemes
Lets review: Language acquisition is a natural process which is both genetic and environmental. At birth infants are able to imitate all the sounds of language, unfortunately as they learn their countries particular language they begin to lose some of those sounds. If a child is unable to distinguish phonemes they will have difficulty in processing words. It is crucial to expose to a variety of literature from infancy.
Learning words and morphemes
As children begin to speak they converse both on a simple and complex level. Songs and rhymes benefit learning process. Processing disorders or brain damage may impede learning words. Vocabulary is gained quickly from 18 months on. Visual aides and manipulatives facilitate learning of new concepts.
Semantics and Syntax
Children crave structure, even in language learning. By the age of three the syntactic network is constructed. Once they have learned the process of structured language they may use the components of speaking and understanding language to learn how to read. They may see a word, use their knowledge of phonemes to decode and translate the word. The mental lexicon, basically our own personal dictionary of words used in a language, is able to identify the word, and as a mental picture appears in their head they are able to read and understand the words. Long term memory helps to learn irregular verbs. Practice makes perfect. In order to understand meaning children must learn to recognize syntax. (Sousa, 2005)
From Words to Sentences
Children learn from context and environment, and thus the rules of language are learned quickly. Comprehension takes more time, even in speech. As children practice speaking sentences they increase meaning.
The components of speaking and understanding language
The process of language acquisition laboriously learned from infancy takes seconds to complete once learned. This process is cyclical. Speaking and understanding is a process that improves through practice, however they may not translate easily to learning how to read. Interestingly, activities that promote speaking and understanding will aide in learning to read. And then the process cycles anew.