Parenting Vivian | 03 Apr 2010 01:35 am

Teaching About Language Through Reading Aloud

When dads read aloud to them, children are learning many different things. They are learning about the world, they are learning to love books and reading, and they are learning about language. This learning about language occurs mainly as children hear, see and understand the language as it is used. This is a kind of subconscious learning that takes place naturally. Dads do not need to do anything special. They just have a good time on the read aloud journey that we and the children have embarked on.

No need to push the teaching, it happens naturally

However, in addition to this subconscious, natural language learning that goes on during reading aloud, dads can also promote conscious language learning by calling children’s attention to specific language features in the book or whatever that they are reading aloud. Before explaining some ways to do this teaching, let us emphasize caution. Do not overdo the teaching. Keep reading aloud enjoyable. Please.

What to teach

What dads teach will depend on the reading level of the children they are reading to. Also, in addition to their ideas about language points to raise, dads should respond to children’s questions about language. Here are some language features they can teach while reading aloud:

* Individual letters, spelling and phonics

* If the book has rhymes, dads can talk about rhyming and encourage children to make up more rhymes of their own

* Punctuation, such as after they have read aloud a question, dads can talk about question marks and why they are used instead of full stops

* The parts of a book, for example, stories normally begin with a setting that tells readers about who is involved and where and when the story takes place, followed by some kind of conflict that confronts the main character(s), and finally a resolution of some kind to the conflict

* Grammar, for example, noticing why past tense is used in some places while present tense is used in other places in the book or in other book

* Vocabulary, for example, in Hazel’s Puppy, a page at the end of the book lists six words and definitions which dads could highlight while reading.

Dr. George Jacobs, Ph.D., is the author of many books (including “The Read Aloud Guide”, textbooks for teachers and students, curriculum guides, and children’s storybooks).

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