Literacy, Phonological awareness, Uncategorized

Speech, Language and Literacy: the neurological link

Did you know that children with Speech and Language Disorders  have a much greater risk for later literacy difficulties?

Difficulties in speech production can range from mild speech errors (e.g. lisps) to severe phonological-based disorders involving many errors and poor intelligibility. Language disorders can be expressive or receptive (or both).

Students with severe speech difficulties or those with Developmental Language Disorder (previously Specific Language Impairment) are at a much higher rate for later literacy difficulties.

So how does this relate to literacy?

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More often than not, it comes down to Phonological Processing- the process in our brain which deconstructs spoken and written language into phonemes. Our sound representations (or phonemes) are stored and accessed for speech, spelling and reading. So when a child has a significant speech or language disorder of a phonological basis, their ability to access the correct orthographic representations during reading and spelling tasks becomes impaired as well. Some students with a core phonological deficit will eventually be diagnosed with a Specific Learning Difficulty in Reading (formally known as Dyslexia).

So what can teachers do to help students with language and/or literacy difficulties?

  1. Refer to a Speech Pathologist as early as possible- early intervention is key!
  2. Engage in meaningful interactions (conversations) with the child to build on their oral language.
  3. Incorporate phonological awareness (specifically phonemic awareness) activities into your daily literacy plan. Phonemic awareness includes blending and segmenting of phonemes as well as harder tasks such as deleting or substituting phonemes within a word.
  4. Ensure you are using EXPLICIT and SYSTEMATIC synthetic phonics instruction to teach spelling and decoding.
  5. Consolidate phonics concepts and establish fluency with decodable readers.
  6. Explicitly teach vocabulary, and provide opportunities to apply this vocabulary in their oral and language.

 

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