Are Spoken Language and Literacy Connected? YES!

The experiences with talking and listening gained during the preschool years prepare children to learn to read and write during the early elementary school years. This means that children who enter school with weaker verbal abilities are much more likely to experience difficulties learning literacy skills than those who do not (Roth et al., 2011). One spoken language skill that is strongly connected to early reading and writing is phonological awareness, or, the recognition that words are made up of separate speech sounds. There are a variety of oral language activities that you may already be playing with your child that demonstrates their natural development of phonological awareness such as rhyming, alliteration (e.g., “big bears bounce on beds”), and isolating sounds (i.e., “a is the first sound in apple”).  Soon children segment words into their separate sounds, and “map” sounds onto printed letters. This allows them to learn to read and write. Research shows that children who perform well on sound awareness tasks become successful readers and writers, while children who struggle with such tasks often do not.

When keeping in mind that language is learned all the time, and every where, it’s no surprise that you can help your child develop literacy skills during regular activities-without adding extra time to your day! Try some of these activities at home:

  • Talk to your child and name everyday objects, people, and events in the everyday environment.
  • Repeat your child’s strings of sounds (e.g., “dadadadadada, babababa”) and add to them.
  • Talk to your child during daily routine activities such as bath or mealtime and respond to his or her questions.
  • Draw your child’s attention to print in everyday settings such as traffic signs, store logos, and food containers.
  • Engage your child in singing, rhyming games, and nursery rhymes.
  • Read picture and story books that focus on sounds, rhymes, and alliteration (i.e., Dr. Seuss books)
  • Reread your child’s favorite books.
  • Focus your child’s attention on books by pointing to words and pictures as you read.
  • Provide a variety of materials to encourage drawing and scribbling (e.g., crayons, paper, markers, finger paints)
  • Encourage your child to describe or tell a story about his or her drawing and write down the words.

This information contained in this article was derived from the article, “Emergent Literacy: Early Reading and Writing Development,” (Roth, Paul, & Pierotti, 2011) found at

-Sarah Peters, MS, CCC-SLP


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