The language strand of the national curriculum English.
English education (Curricula)
Language skills (Study and teaching)
Whole language learning (Methods)
Classroom management (Management)
Williams, Leanne
Lawson, Sarah
Pub Date:
Name: Practically Primary Publisher: Australian Literacy Educators' Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Australian Literacy Educators' Association ISSN: 1324-5961
Date: Feb, 2012 Source Volume: 17 Source Issue: 1
Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia

Accession Number:
Full Text:

I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble and others got me out.

--Katherine Dunn, author and poet

In the Language strand of the Australian Curriculum English, students develop their knowledge of the English language and how it works. Through the following sub-strands, children develop their understanding and skills of:

* Language variation and change

* Language for interaction

* Text structure and organisation

* Expressing and developing ideas

* Sound and letter knowledge

The curriculum in the Foundation Years uses the range of experiences and knowledge that children bring to school as a rich base for further learning. It aims to extend these abilities and to provide the foundation needed for continued learning.

In the early childhood years the focus of language development moves from non verbal to verbal communication. Outcome 5 in Belonging, Being and Becoming--The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia states that:


Language development in young children is a vital indicator for success in later life. Oral language in conjunction with phonological processing and print awareness has a great influence on the ability to learn to read in the early years of school. In fact, reading regularly with young children is the single most important activity that a parent or carer can undertake to develop a child's ability to read and write.

The Australian Curriculum English Strand 5.2.3 states

In Belonging, Being and Becoming--The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, it highlights the importance of children using their home languages as well as Standard Australian English. In early childhood settings and the early years of primary school the ability for young children to experiment with oral language is most evident in play situations.

Playing with rhymes and rhythms from an early age enables children to build auditory competencies needed to master language. Nursery rhymes help introduce phonological awareness in a fun and interactive way. Mem Fox in Reading Magic (2005) cites research that claims that 'Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they're four years old they're usually among the best readers by the time they are eight.'


Books, rhymes and conversations provide the perfect vehicle for children to explore language. The Little Big Book Club's programs support families and educators to make the most out of sharing a book. Talking, singing and playing are all important ways that children learn. Sharing a book with a child presents many teachable moments.

Janet Mclean, author of Let's Go Baby-o! states in the introduction of this delightful children's book 'From the beginning, babies enter into a world of people, animals, things, places and events. As they grow, they watch and listen to what is happening around them. And they respond--they squeal and shout, and learn to talk; they jiggle, bounce and clap; they smile and laugh and cry. Then those around them talk back. The exchange continues, and so as babies grow they learn more and more about their world.'


This book in itself provides a rich language experience. Because of its familiar themes and language it is a great springboard for exploring language with young children. For example:

* Take the time to look out the window. Ask some of the following questions:

--What can you see?

--Can you find...?

--Where is...?

Look out another window, what do you see, is it the same or different?

Older children can record what they see through drawing or writing.

* Grow some seedlings so you can regularly talk about the changes that are taking place as they grow.

* Young children enjoy exploring their world through touch.

--Take their shoes or socks off so they can feel the soft grass under their feet.

--Find a small corner of the garden where they can experience digging in the dirt.

* To extend the story even further print the Let's Go Baby-o! Activity Time from our website.

Lets Go Baby-O

Janet and Andrew McLean

Publisher: Allen & Unwin: ISBN: 9781742375649



It is important that teachers conscientiously allow oral language to thrive by encouraging children to engage in conversation with each other and to create a classroom climate where students feel comfortable asking questions or seeking clarification whenever necessary. Teachers may not realise they do most of the talking, from 65% to 95% in most classrooms (Peregoy & Boyle, 1997).

As children transition to school the focus begins to shift from oral to written language. But it is important that oral language continues to play a key role in the early years. The classroom should be a place where 'talk is valued as a learning tool' (Peregoy & Boyle, 1997, p. 100).

Some ideas to maximise oral language use in the classroom include:

* Aim to read a variety of high-quality fiction and non fiction books every day.

* Include books that positively reflect children's identity, home, language and culture.

* While reading to children, give them opportunities to discuss and relate stories to their everyday lives.

* Use open-ended questions to foster conversations with children.

* Set up dramatic areas for children where they can experiment with oral language and create their own scripts.

The primary role of language is communication. Language enables children to express their feelings, share ideas, tell stories and engage with the world. Language in combination with literature and literacy provides children with a pathway for future successes


Peregoy, S.F., & Boyle, O.F. (1997). Reading, writing, & learning in ESL. New York: Longman.

For further information, ideas and activities please visit our website:

Leanne Williams is the Early Childhood Advisor for The Little Big Book Club. The Early Childhood Advisor is responsible for the implementation of the Monthly Selections program and the ongoing development and promotion of LBBC's range of resources.

Sarah Lawson is part of The Little Big Book Club's Early Childhood Team. Sarah has worked in child care centres, kindergartens, preschools and in junior primary classrooms.
Children are effective communicators with the first
   indicator being that children interact verbally and
   non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.

the development of oral language proficiency is important in its
   own right. It is also important when learning to read and write.
   The teaching of listening and speaking is essential in the early
   years, and continues to be important throughout the years of
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Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.