Language Literacy for Teachers


Communicatively challenged students are at risk for development of literacy. Today, many of these children are included in the regular classroom with teachers who may not have a background in connections between content, form and use of oral language to print. Statistics indicate that a child who is not a fluent reader by fourth grade is likely to struggle with reading as an adult (International Dyslexia Association, 2001). In addition, 73% of second graders who were poor readers has a history of spoken - language deficits or phonemic awareness challenges in kindergarten (ASHA, 2001). Oral language, reading and writing are reciprocal, therefore, these children are likely to struggle with literacy development. Language challenged children who struggle to decode and comprehend print lose out on the development of general knowledge and vocabulary to understand other content areas, eventually being at risk for academic failure.


  • Limited knowledge of print
  • Challenges with processing
  • Vocabulary may be reduced
  • Emergent literacy skills are weak
  • Reasoning skills may not be well developed
  • Phonological Awareness kills may be reduced
  • May not have adequate core oral language foundation
  • May not have strategies/or know how to apply strategies for literacy
  • Incidental learning in the classroom is not always happening: they need direct instruction

Classroom instruction that includes an emphasis on content, form and use of language as it is connected to literacy would be a major benefit for the language challenged students.


Teacher preparation varies widely and many not include knowledge in the areas of content, form and use of language in relationship to literacy. Teacher knowledge base and experience with this facet of literacy development is paramount to the student's success in learning to read and write. This factor becomes even more important when students with language challenges are included in the teachers regular classroom. Speech - Language Pathologists (SLP's) have knowledge/skills to assist teachers in this area, providing opportunities for change in classroom teaching for language challenged children. This includes knowledge and working collaboratively with classroom teachers to emphasize information from six main areas that connect language to literacy: Phonological Awareness, Phonological Memory, Information Processing System, Morphology, Vocabulary Learning and Written Language.


Research - Based Best Practices (Murrow, Gambrell & Pressley, 2003) on teaching literacy, whether a classroom teacher or as an SLP supporting literacy for language challenged children in the classroom, include the following:

  • Teaching meaningful experiential literacy for information, to perform a task and for pleasure ... motivation to learn.
  • Using high quality literature.
  • Teaching phonics in both reading and writing.
  • Using multiple texts that link and expand the contexts of the content.
  • Teacher and student led discussions.
  • Use a whole class community that builds concepts and background knowledge.
  • Small groups for reading skills while others are instructed on written language skills.
  • Every student should have ample time to read in class.
  • Direct instruction in decoding and comprehension strategies, with a balance of direct and guided instruction with independent learning.
  • Multiple assessment formats to inform instructions.

Additional Information: