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The Concepts of Early Literacy Development
The article under analysis is the “The comprehensive language approach to early literacy: The interrelationships among vocabulary, phonological sensitivity, and print knowledge among preschool-aged children” (2003) by Dickinson, McCabe, Anastasopoulos, Peisner-Feinberg, and Poe in the Journal of Educational Psychology.
The study reports about the assessment of the literacy skills of preschool-aged children and analyzes various ways of developing early literacy. The authors of the article evaluate other different studies in this area and analyze effectiveness and productivity of various methods and factors influencing correct assessment principles.
In this respect, a combination of phonemic awareness and “phonology, semantics, syntax, discourse, reading, and writing” (Dickinson et al., 2003, p.465) enables learners to acquire the language and its peculiarities with the help of literacy skills. I think that the idea of a complex approach is really constructive and requires more common application of it among tutors and learners.
Phonological Sensitivity Approach
The phonological sensitivity approach is the basic one and it is not sufficient to provide researchers with a comprehensive analysis of learners’ literacy skills and is aimed at merely making children of early preschool age aware of the basic phonemic structures, rules, and principles.
In this respect, tutors can make use of the method offered by Schmidt, Miodrag, & Francesco (2008) where researchers analyze the productivity of computer related collaboration of a teacher and children while acquiring early literacy skills.
I think that the phonological sensitivity approach appears to be of little use due to its insufficient sphere of influence and results demonstrated during numerous analyses. However, the authors of this study have chosen the right method for their research because a vivid contrast enables the readers to realize the importance of taking necessary measures while developing early literacy skills.
Furthermore, it empowers us to analyze the significance of phonemic awareness for older children as “Studies of older children who have great difficulty learning to read have highlighted the importance of phonemic awareness” (Dickinson et al., 2003, p.467).
In this respect, phonemic awareness appears to be required for basic skills of reading. Nevertheless, the literacy skills include other more complicated structures and concepts than mere phonemes.
Storybook reading is aimed at development of the only aspect (recognition of phonemes previously learned in a separated manner and combined in a way that makes them full of sense). However, it is necessary to take into account the effectiveness of storybook reading for literacy development.
This effect is achieved through engaging a child into an activity that appears to be interesting for him/her and useful at the same time. Thus, Justice, Kaderavek, Fan, Sofka, and Hunt (2009, p. 68) have suggested that the process of storybook reading can be successfully used to accelerate literacy skills development in preschool-aged children.
So, the study by Justice et al. (2009) develops an approach appropriate for early literacy development with the help of verbal and nonverbal references made by teacher during the reading session to print objects.
Thereby, the phonemic awareness approach can be considered more effective than previously suggested in the study by Dickinson et al. (2003). At the same time, it is more preferable to use a complex approach because different peculiarities of inborn skills can require an alternative method to be used.
Comprehensive Language Approach
The comprehensive language approach includes many different concepts existing in language that should be learned and understood in order to achieve results in developing literacy skills. Understanding of concepts and their role in the speech construction is really important because it enables tutors to spend fewer efforts on explanation of theoretical points and devote focus more on practical application of knowledge.
Learners can get a maximum of such approach because they can identify some concepts and see the difference being aware of the theoretical background and importance of language structure principles. In this respect, a more complicated approach can accelerate the literacy development.
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Consideration of other useful factors typical of simpler approaches is of great significance for the application of comprehensive language approach because such concepts and acknowledgements and use of computer technology can be helpful while dealing with not-typical learners or those who may experience some difficulties in the course of development literacy skills.
Thereby, it is necessary to address the study by Schmid, Miodrag, and Francesco (2008) reporting the importance of acknowledgements in the course of the experiment:
Children looked toward tutors for acknowledgement of mastering activities, need for further clarification, and appraisal for correct answers. Children appeared to want to please the tutors, and were often observed looking up at them for affirmation and recognition that they in fact, mastered each letter after an activity (p.71).
Though acknowledgements play a crucial role in the teacher/children interactions and effectiveness of their collaboration, it is necessary to provide children with a constructive feedback on their achievements in the sector of their literacy skills. Another method that can be of great use for the complex approach is the referencing to print targets while reading storybooks for children.
Books for different reading-referencing interventions should be selected with “print salient features such as speech bubbles, font changes, and accentuated words, and they are appropriate choices for 3- to 5-year-olds” (Justice et al., 2009, p.71).
Computer technology can be used as reported I the study by Schmid, Miodrag, and Francesco (2008) where computers were used to support tutoring and make it more advanced and productive.
When a tutor is aware of the effects, benefits, and disadvantages of various methods, he/she can choose the most appropriate one for certain learners and apply it to practice. In other words, all methods can be beneficial for learners; the most important part of the dispute concerns the necessity for separating different approaches and analyzing their effectiveness for literacy development separately.
The literacy development is a concept related to acquisition of reading and writing skills. The problem of literacy development in preschool-aged children requires a specific approach to be taken and applied.
Though it appears to be difficult to find a universal approach for all learners regardless of their inborn skills, it is possible to choose a combination of the most appropriate approaches and methods to introduce into groups of learners selected in accordance with their intellectual and language acquisition skills.
Tutors that apply a complex approach can make use of a combination of computer technologies, storybook reading and referencing system and phonemic awareness methods. Thus, every individual is unique addressing him/her as a learner and requires a specific approach to make a maximum of the teaching methods and achieve success in learning basic principles necessary for literacy development.
Dickinson, D. K., McCabe, A., Anastasopoulos, L., Peisner-Feinberg, E. S., & Poe, M. D. (2003). The comprehensive language approach to early literacy: The interrelationships among vocabulary, phonological sensitivity, and print knowledge among preschool-aged children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95 (3), 465–481.
Justice, L. M., Kaderavek, J. N., Fan, X., Sofka, A., & Hunt, A. (2009). Accelerating preschoolers’ early literacy development through classroom-based teacher–child storybook reading and explicit print referencing. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40, 67–85.
Schmid, R. F., Miodrag, N., & Francesco, D. F. (2008). A human-computer partnership: The tutor/child/computer triangle promoting the acquisition of early literacy skills. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(1), 63–84.