At the heart of English learning and teaching is understanding, using and creating written, visual and oral texts. Here at Essential Resources New Zealand, we understand this. We provide practical, evidence-based primary school resources to develop students’ language and literacy skills.
Our experienced authors have created titles aligned with the New Zealand English curriculum. The resources include grammar and punctuation worksheets for students to practice language conventions. Exploring Multicultural Poetry, by Vaughan Rapatahana, to make poetry accessible and meaningful to all students. And a range of primary school reading books, Story Seekers, to support struggling readers.
Essential Resources wants to help teachers arm their students with language and literacy skills to think critically and in-depth.
It is well-established that oral language is important for the development of literacy. In fact, it is crucial for learning in general.
The areas of the brain related to speech and language are there from birth, unlike those responsible for reading. These have to be exercised and developed. Therefore, to read and write, we must first be able to speak, listen and understand.
This is why oral language has been called the bedrock of literacy.
Oral language comprehension is crucial in reading comprehension (the ultimate aim of reading) and writing ability. It is difficult for a student to read and write words if they do not know what the words mean.
The reading process involves learning about a symbolic system (writing) used to represent speech. “Before children begin to learn to associate the written form of speech, they need to learn the vocabulary, grammar and sound system of the oral language” (International Bureau of Education, 2003).
The number of words a child knows and understands is initially higher in oral language than in written language. As the wordiness in oral language increases, so will the number of written words.
Helping struggling readers begins with increasing their motivation to read by providing them with texts that are meaningful and engaging. In How to engage young readers, Paul Mason says texts should “reflect a child’s world” where the situations or settings will strike a chord with the reader.
Struggling readers often have challenges with decoding and/or linguistic comprehension. When students struggle to do one or both of these, they are unable to accurately understand what they are reading.
Essential Resources' Story Seekers is a collection of short chapter books specifically aimed at improving primary students decoding and linguistic comprehension.
Each book has a phonics focus with a 10-minute phonics lesson plan and decoding questions.
Story Seekers supports linguistic comprehension by using vocabulary at the reading level of the students. The questions and activities encourage independent comprehension and high-order thinking with teacher support. The books also have carefully chosen images to provide cues for interpreting the meaning of the text.
Writing templates, activity cards, literacy-based games, book clubs and grammar and punctuation worksheets are some effective literacy activities we would recommend.
Activity cards allow learning to be differentiated to suit the student’s needs. Reluctant learners can be asked to answer a select number of questions without a time limit. More advanced learners can be challenged to complete all the questions within a timeframe.
Literacy CAN U CARDS and Literacy Learning Goals are two examples of primary English resources that use activity cards to support individualised learning. Both series also have links to the New Zealand English curriculum.
Literacy-based games encourage students to use a range of literacy skills – reading instructions, speaking clearly, listening for information, and so on. Say, Read, Succeed offers a variety of oral language games to improve children’s reading and writing through counting syllables to producing rhymes.