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The Big Four


1. Oral Language Development:

Oral language is the acquisition of vocabulary that aids in meaningful speech and conversation. However, oral language development consists of much more than simply vocabulary. It also includes:

  • Phonology: the organisation of sounds within an alphabetic language.

  • Grammar or syntax: the rules that govern the structure of speech and writing.

  • Morphology: a subset of semantics which considers the smallest units of meaning within a word, as well as how the word is formed.

  • Pragmatics: the understanding of how language is used in social situations.

  • Discourse: the act of communicating, in oral or written.

2. Print Awareness:

Print awareness refers to a child’s understanding that written language has a direct relationship with oral language. Sometimes called “concepts of print”, it also includes skills such as

  • Book awareness: knowing how to properly handle a book, including how to turn pages.

  • Reading pictures: developing storytelling skills by using picture to “read” a book, rather than relying on the words to be read aloud.

  • Picture and word differentiation: that they are two separate things.

  • Line sweeping: the act of “sweeping” reading from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.

  • Punctuation: developing awareness that symbols in writing tell readers what to do.

  • Purposeful print: that print has a purpose to communicate and give information to the reader.

3. Phonological Awareness:

Phonological awareness refers to the ability to recognise the variety of sound units that make up words. It encompasses a wide variety of sound-related skills that are necessary for reading.

  • One – to – one correspondence in reading: that each written word corresponds with a spoken word.

  • Rhyming

  • Syllable awareness: counting syllables, as well as blending and segmenting syllables.

  • Onset and rime manipulation: if the /k/ sound in cat is replaced by the /p/ sound, what new word is created?

  • Phoneme awareness: that words are made up of small and individual sounds.

4. Alphabetic Principle:

Most simply put, refers to phonics instructions, which means that sounds in words are represented by symbols (letters). It is understanding that the speech sounds of language have systematic and predictable relationships with letters of the alphabet and letter combinations, thus forming words. Skills include:

  • Letter – sound associations: that every sound has a matching symbol or set of symbols.

  • Sound blending: for example, what word is mooooommmmm?

  • Segmenting: isolating individual sounds in a word.

  • Reading pseudowords: applying sound/spelling patterns to unfamiliar words.

  • Word identification: identifying single words.

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