Children do not learn to read for the first time when they receive formal training at school (Lancaster, 2003:5; Hill & Launder, 2010:241). Young children (1-2 years), engage in visual and graphic representation of meaning for example, the letters on food wrappers, toys, clothing, billboards, signage and television. Furthermore children ask questions, parents talk to their children, read to them, tell stories and sing to them or let them listen to songs. Thereby they hear various sounds and start magically identifying letters in a spontaneous way.
The natural developmental pattern of the learn-to-read process is further endorsed by Hill en Launder’s (2010:241) opinion that reading development is supported by oral language skills. Oral language skills serve as the foundation for the learn-to-read process because toddlers draw knowledge of the meaning of combined sentences and sounds he / she hears (Saracho & Spodek, 2007:1).
Research indicates (Hill & Launder, 2010:241; Bradley & Bryant 1983:419–421) that there is a strong link between phonological awareness (sound structure) and the ability to learn to read and spell. It was found that learners’ phonological awareness especially rhyming and alliteration, has a powerful effect in terms of the ultimate success in learning to read. The reason is that learners draw conclusions about the links between writing and the sound itself.
It is valuable to talk to a child, but the regular telling of stories, rhymes and singing of songs is essential, because that is where oral language skills and phonological awareness develop especially through the effect of rhyme and alliteration.
The emergence of literacy from birth (Emergent Literacy) is the basis for the development of conventional reading and writing skills in Gr.1 (Morrow et al., 2011: 69; Justice et al, 2003:320).
Bradley, L. & Bryant, P. E. 1983. Categorizing sounds and learning to read – a causal connection. Nature, 301:419–421.
Hill, S. & Launder, N. 2010. Oral language and beginning to read. Australian Journal of Language & Literacy, 33 (3):240-254.
Justice, L. M., Chow, S., Capellini, C., Flanigan, K. & Colton, S. 2003. Emergent literacy intervention for vulnerable preschoolers: Relative effects of two approaches. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12:320–332.
Lancaster, L. 2003. Moving into Literacy: How it all begins. In: N. Hall., J. Larson., J. Marsh (reds.). Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy. London: SAGE. 3-10.
Morrow, M. L., Tracey, D. H. & Del Nero, J. R. 2011. Best practices in early literacy preschool, kindergarten and first grade. In: L. M. Morrow & L. B. Gambrell (reds.). Best Practices in Literacy Instruction. New York: Guilford Press. 67-93.
Saracho, O. & Spodek, B. 2007. Oracy: Social facets of language learning. Early Child Development and Care, 177 (6–7):695–705.