Language and Literacy: The Foundations of Reading

Language and Literacy: The Foundations of Reading!

Who does this impact?

In today’s educational system, many school-age children require assistance in the areas of receptive language (comprehension) and expressive language (speaking) in order to reach the same level of success as their peers in the classroom. These students may need support for developing a range of skills, including reading, writing, or speaking that directly impacts their ability to both understand and communicate about classroom material. This may include a student with a learning disability working on writing grammatically correct sentences, a child with autism focusing on building abstract and figurative language skills, or an emergent reader learning phonological awareness and sight words. These students have one thing in common – these skills are all tied to reading!

How are literacy and communication connected?

Many research studies have determined the importance of oral and written language in children’s reading skills and academic success. For example, Catts along with other authors in 2002 noted that among children with language delay in Kindergarten, 50% were eventually identified with a reading disability in first or second grade. In a long-term progressive study, Rescorla (2009) followed a group of late-talking toddlers to age 17, and discovered that delays in language development at 24-31 months is associated with weakness in oral and written language skills relative to their typically-developing peers. In summary, oral and written language skills can influence literacy development for all ages over a long period of time. Providing support in reading can impact academic achievement from an early age into adulthood.

How can a Speech Language Pathologist help?

A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is a specialist who is knowledgeable about the specific link between literacy and language skills. Regardless the area of need, an SLP can provide therapy for a range of oral and written language needs that directly impact literacy and language learning. In fact, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), SLPs provide a “critical and direct role” in developing literacy skills for students as it impacts communication. The number of encounters a student has with written material, from picture books to college textbooks, is immeasurable. The importance of building reading skills for language development, especially for those with a range of communication disorders/delays, has a direct connection.

What can parents do?

A simple answer to how parents can build literacy skills at home is….READ, READ, READ, then READ SOME MORE! Exposure to language-rich environments fosters communication skills from an early age. Visit your local library at for information on reading programs, events, and more! Reading to children exposes them to vocabulary they may not hear in normal conversation, allowing them to learn new words. Asking the question, “What do you think will happen next?” can build predicting and inference-making skills. Re-reading familiar picture books can target sequencing. Ask children to retell the story in their own words (e.g. “what happened first, next, finally…etc.) to build language memory skills. Parents can help early readers “sound out” words letter by letter or identify sight words on the page. Picture books can target describing words including color, shape, size, and texture. Parents can ask their child WH-questions as they read (e.g. Who is that? Where are they going? When will they leave?). The opportunities are endless!

Helpful links for parents about reading to your children:

If you have concerns about your child’s language or literacy, please contact the Delaware Speech and Hearing Center at via phone at 740-369-3650 or email us at

Written by Cristina Getz, MSEd, CCC-SP, Speech Language Pathologist, Delaware Speech and Hearing Center

PDH Academy (2015) Oral & Written Language Development: Knowledge, Skills, & Strategies. Course #1701. Retrieved from

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By |2018-04-09T19:26:59+00:00April 9th, 2018|Education, Speech Language Pathology|0 Comments

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