Nearly 135,000 stories from 5-13 year-olds across the UK and a huge 56 million words later, the Oxford Children’s Word of the Year has been identified as ‘plastic’.
There’s been much discussion recently regarding the “language gap” and the “word gap” — the recognition that there are huge variations in levels of children’s language ability by the time they start school. Some of our research has investigated how children’s spoken language sets the foundation for literacy development. It is clear that children with low levels of spoken language are at risk for reading failure, particularly with it comes to reading comprehension.
Some children start school with worryingly low levels of oral language. In this guest post, Maggie Snowling tells us why this matters and what can be done about it.
Word Detective is our nationwide citizen science project for children. Lots of children have already taken part in our quiz, as these photos show. With your help, we hope many more children will take part. We need 1000s of Word Detectives to help us answer important questions about how children learn to read. Follow our how to guide and you can complete the quiz in 10 easy steps. And there are prizes to be won!
Word Detective is our nationwide citizen science project. Many children have already participated, earning their Word Detective certificate. With your help, we hope many more children will take part. We need 1000s of Word Detectives to help us answer important questions about how children learn to read. You can complete the quiz with your class in 10 easy steps, by following our how to guide. And there are prizes to be won!
The picture shows our research group enjoying some shared reading time at Oxford’s Story Museum.
We know that shared reading matters. Study after study shows that children vary enormously in the amount of shared reading they experience in the pre-school years. In turn, this variation is associated with language and literacy development once they get to school. But why is shared reading so important?
Primed by an email conversation about the connections between vocabulary and reading comprehension, I’ve dug out a chapter I wrote nearly 10 years ago on the very topic. If I was writing it now, one thing I’d want to include is discussion of vocabulary instruction and its role in improving reading comprehension. Although there is more to reading comprehension than vocabulary, there is good evidence that gains in vocabulary knowledge are associated with gains in reading comprehension (e.g., Clarke et al., 2010). Equally though, successful reading itself provides the essential substrate for learning new vocabulary – hence the rich and complex interactions between vocabulary and reading comprehension.
Earlier this year, a record breaking 131,798 children from across the country submitted a story to the annual BBC Radio 2 500 Words writing competition. All this hard work and creative effort produced a massive 55 million words, making over 284 million words in total since the competition began in 2012. Every story is special, and every story is read. You can read and listen to the shortlisted stories over on the BBC Radio 2 500 Words homepage, and tune in to the results show on Friday 16th June, live from the Tower of London. But our question for today is what is the children’s word of the year? Which word fired the children’s imaginations and captured the spirit of this year’s stories? Our friends in the Children’s Dictionaries Department at Oxford University Press have found out the answer… and….
Many thanks to Mandy Nayton and colleagues from Australia’s Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation for organising a fantastic conference. Three packed days, more than 500 delegates and 84 speakers, all united by a common theme: what are the factors that underpin children’s language and literacy development and how can this knowledge be used to build effective education for all children?
There’s still time to encourage children to enter this year’s BBC 500 Words writing competition. Find out a little more about the competition and how its helping our research into children’s language and writing.