The foundation of literacy

The overarching belief of the Framework is that oral communication is the foundation on which all literacy skills are built. Strong listening and speaking skills are essential tools for children to become successful readers and writers (Nelson, 1989). It is critical that teachers remain aware of the importance of oral communication in every aspect of literacy instruction and throughout the school day, particularly for those children who have come to school with limited oral language skills. Research confirms that children’s literacy develops most effectively using active, creative strategies that engage them fully in interactions with the teacher and with each other, rather than “silent, passive, and socially isolating work” (ODE, 1991, 22; Zemelman, 2000; IRA Statement).

Oral communication is part of every subject area. The way in which teachers and children exchange information determines how effectively the children will learn. Children also need ample opportunities for interaction with their peers. When oral language is used to create meaning and purpose in the classroom, children become more fully engaged in their learning and are able to organize their learning more effectively.