Book Language

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?


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Reading comprehension and vocabulary: what’s the connection?

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.

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And the children’s word of 2017 is…

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….

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Language, Literacy & Learning Conference, Perth 2017

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?

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Guest Blog: Letter Position Processing and Learning to Read

With only 26 letters to represent all possible words, it is inevitable that words overlap considerably with each other. The more words that children can read, the more likely it is that a word will overlap in letters with other words, meaning that sensitivity to both letter identity and letter position is critical. Relatively little is know about how children learn to process letter position information. We asked ReadOxford visitor Dr Yvette Kezilas to tell us more.

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Guest Blog: Paired Associate Learning and Learning to Read

Learning letter-sound associations is one of the first and most important challenges children are faced with when they first learn to read. To a skilled reader, this may seem like a simple task: there is no question that the visual symbol p represents the speech sound ”p”, as in pig, whereas the symbol t refers to the sound “t”, as in tiger. Yet these relationships are entirely arbitrary to the novice reader; there is no reason that p should say “p” or t should say “t”. Learning to map between spelling patterns (orthography) and sounds (phonology) is a form of paired associate learning.

We asked ReadOxford alumna Dr Robin Litt to tell us more about paired associate learning and its role in learning to read.

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Guest Blog: Learning to Read in Another Language

Nearly a fifth of England’s primary school population is made up of children who have English as an Additional Language (EAL) – children with a home language that isn’t English, yet who are being educated in England through the medium of the English language. At ReadOxford, we are often asked about EAL. We asked Oxford’s Professor Victoria Murphy, an expert in EAL, to tell us more.

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