22 Pages

Facilitating Language Development Promotes Literacy Learning

WithCatherine E. Snow

The basic premise of this chapter is that literacy development and school success are most effectively promoted during the preschool period by attention to the development of oral language skills. The contrary assumption might seem much more logical-that ultimate success in literacy would be promoted by the early facilitation of skills directly related to the process of decoding. There is much evidence to suggest that children who know the alphabet on arrival in school, or who have some basic phoneme segmentation skills, end up as better readers, so it seems obvious that we should promote letter recognition and phoneme segmentation skills during the preschool years. In contrast, I will argue that premature attention to print skills and to some others typically subsumed under the rubric “reading readiness” or “emergent literacy” can absorb time and attention better spent on the child’s access to experiences which help develop much more crucial oral language skills.