The foundation skills of emergent literacy consisting of phonological processing, print awareness and oral language skills have an influence on the learn-to-read process (Neuman & Dickinson 2003:12; Greaney & Arrow, 2012:11; Lonigan et al., 2000:596). Learners that learn to read by means of the foundation skills of emergent literacy are, according to the latter researchers, learners who learn to read earlier and better than learners who are not exposed to these foundation skills.
2. Print Awareness
The second foundation skill of emergent literacy is print awareness which consists of writing principles and emerging writing. Writing principles are the knowledge of the letters of the alphabet and is considered as one of the predictors of reading success (Neuman & Dickinson, 2003:16; Lonigan et al., 2000:597). Emerging writing is the made up writing by the toddler, the writing of the preschool child and is another form of writing awareness. Emerging writing is a developmental process of drawing shapes and scribbling that represent letters. Pretending to write is the first writing efforts and the learning process of where the writing process begins (Neuman & Dickinson, 2003:17-18).
A beginner reader who cannot recognize and distinguish the letters of the alphabet, will struggle to learn the sound that the letter represents (Neuman & Dickinson, 2003:16).
3. Oral Language Skills
Developing links between the oral language proficiency of the child, the third foundation skill of emergent literacy, were often ignored in the past.
Vocabulary is part of oral language proficiency and is enriched and expanded by what the child hears and repeats. Storytelling and explanatory illustrations of stories enrich vocabulary, develop word order and sentence structure and the child realizes that spoken words can be written.
The foundation skills of emergent literacy consisting of phonological processing, print awareness and oral language skills as discussed are mostly conveyed by the use of stories, rhymes, verses and songs.
Greaney, K. & Arrow, A. 2012. Phonological-based assessment and teaching within a first year reading program in New Zealand. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 35 (1):9-32.
Lonigan, C. J., Burgess, S. R. & Anthony, J. L. 2000. Development of emergent literacy and early reading skills in preschool children: Evidence from a latent-variable longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 36:596-613.
Neuman, S. B. & Dickinson, D. K. 2003. Emergent literacy: Development from prereaders to readers. In: G. J. Whitehurst., C. J. Lonigan (reds.). Handbook of Early Literacy Research. New York: The Guilford Press. 12-22.