Oral Language Developmental Continuum
Preschool: 3-4 years
Listen attentively for short time periods (e.g., stories, poems, music, rhymes, etc.).
Follow directions during daily/classroom routines.
Focus on own needs when listening.
Talk about daily experiences.
May/May not use complete sentences.
Ask what unfamiliar words mean.
Preschool 4-5 years
Respond to stories, poems, rhymes, music, action songs.
Follow 2-3 step directions.
Respond to questions.
Listen attentively for increasing periods.
Connect information and events to life experiences.
Know that print is read in stories.
Retell stories or events in chronological order.
Pay attention to repetitive sounds/patterns.
Use new vocabulary and grammatical constructions in own speech.
Demonstrate literal comprehension of stories by asking questions and making comments.
Use more complex sentences.
Seek/Share information and appreciation during social interactions.
Kindergarten 5-6 years
Demonstrate understanding that spoken language is a sequence of identifiable speech sounds.
Demonstrate sense of story (beginning, middle, end, characters).
Connect information and events in text to experience.
Understand and follow oral-graphic directions.
Demonstrate understanding of literary language: (e.g., "once upon a time" and other vocabulary
specific to a genre).
Use words that describe color, size, and location in a variety of texts (e.g., oral retelling).
Use new vocabulary in own speech and writing.
Maintain conversation and discussions:
o attending to oral presentations.
o taking turns expressing ideas and asking questions.
Follow directions that have a series of steps.
Express the main point of a conversation.
Adjust language and syntax to different situations.
Adjust rate and volume to situation.
Use talk to clarify ideas or experiences.
Track print when listening to a familiar text being read or when rereading own writing.
First Grade 6-7 years
Use specific words that name and tell action in oral and written language.
Extend skills using oral and written language:
o clarifying purposes for engaging in communication.
o using clear and precise language to paraphrase messages.
o engaging in more extended oral discussions.
Compose a variety of products: (e.g. oral retellings).
Elaborate on how information and events connect to life experiences.
Discuss unfamiliar oral vocabulary after listening to text.
Develop phonemic awareness:
o count number of syllables in a word.
o blend the phonemes of one syllable word.
o segment the phonemes of one syllable words.
o change the beginning, middle, and ending sounds to produce new words.
Express personal ideas, feelings, information, and experiences.
Summarize what has been said.
Ask speaker to repeat what has been said for understanding and clarity.
Communicate effectively for variety of purposes and audiences.
Use words to convey meaning, entertain, or share information.
Evidence expanding language repertoire (e.g., standard language usage, informal conversation,
Functions of Written Language
People use written language for different purposes. Parents and teachers can use this chart to encourage students in their written language
Instrumental Informative Personal
Functions Language to get what we Language to represent the world Language to develop and
want to others maintain one's own unique
Asserting personal Language to impart what one identity
Asserting positive/negative Labeling, noting details
expressions Noting incidents, sequences
Requesting an opinion Making generalizations
Incidental expressions Comparing
Examples I want some milk. That's a Lexus. My name is Anne Catherine.
I'm first because I'm the It's green and blue. I'm good at music.
oldest. My cookie is bigger than yours. I like Siamese cats.
I need a pencil. My sister is in the hospital. I'm the only child in my
It tastes good to me. I have twenty dollars. family.
Do you like my new shirt? I'm taller than anyone else my I want to be a teacher when I
My goodness! age. grow up.
You're too loud. I'm smart at language.
Ways to Encourage children to state Engage children in experiences Provide opportunities for
Promote Oral their requests clearly. which require them to observe, children to share personal
Language Help children become record, summarize, and draw opinions, interpretations, and
aware of how people use conclusions. experiences.
language to get what they Use open-ended questions. Listen to and talk with the
want. Collect data over time. Interpret students personally.
Encourage children to and draw conclusions from Create opportunities for
provide assistance to and records. students to listen to and talk
seek assistance from peers. Have children revise reports and with others.
presentations (their own and
Encourage children to share
what they know in a variety of
formats and settings.
Allen, Leanne. West Australia Department of Education. (1994). First Steps: Oral Language Resource Book: Melbourne, Australia: Addison
Wesley Longman Australia Pty Limited.
Children's Choices. (October, yearly). Primary Level Books. The Reading Teacher. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.
Gambrell, Linda B. and Almasi, Janice F. (Eds.). (1996). Lively Discussions! Fostering Engaged Reading. Newark, Delaware: International
Heibert, E.H., Pearson, P.D., Taylor, B.M., Richardson, V., and Paris, S.G. (1998). Every Child a Reader: Center for the Improvement of Early
North Carolina English Language Arts Standard Course of Study. (December, 1999). Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., and Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Academic
Staab, Claire. (1992). Oral Language for Today's Classroom. Pippin Publishing Limited.
Teachers' Choices. (November, yearly). Primary Level Books. The Reading Teacher. International Reading Association.
(Source: Department of Education, North Carolina)