Oral Language and Learning to Read (CIES 2016)
In this presentation, Dr. Nag will provide evidence that children's level of vocabulary and oral language proficiency can explain attainments in reading comprehension, using languages that use the Indic alphasyllabaries as an illustration. While many reading programs focus on decoding skills, Dr. Nag makes an important case for including strong oral language comprehension components in all early reading programs. Her research focuses on children learning in Kannada, a language spoken in Southern India. She will present evidence that children taught in Kannada when it is their dominant language, also need explicit instruction in oral language skills in order to become proficient readers. Contrary to the assumption that children do not need this level of support for their dominant language, her research suggests that many need structured opportunities for developing their knowledge of vocabulary and inflection.
Dr. Nag will provide a brief summary of research on learning to read in the Indic alphasyllabaries. Findings suggest that children sometimes have difficulties with inflections and suffixes during reading and Nag found in one study conducted with children learning to read in Kannada, that those with poor reading achievement also obtained lower scores in a Kannada language proficiency measure. An important question is then raised with regard to children who are learning to read in languages that are densely inflected and agglutinative in nature. Dr. Nag will then provide suggestions for oral language instruction in alphasyllabaries and other non-alphabetic languages that can facilitate the development of reading skills essential for reading proficiency.
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