Language Towards Literacy

Junior Infants

Introduction

Language Towards Literacy was developed to provide teachers of Junior and Senior Infants with a structured, step-by-step developmental programme, tailored to the needs of young children. It is designed to boost language competence, especially for those students who start school with poor language skills.

Reading is a language skill. Language Towards Literacy was developed as a substitute for teaching reading in Junior Infants. The English Teacher Guidelines of the Primary School Curriculum's Emergent Reader advises 'that the child will not be expected to engage in a structured reading scheme until his/her language competence is strong enough to support reading development', and suggests postponing the onset of formal reading teaching until 'sometime during Senior Infants Class'.

Language Towards Literacy has been in use in a number of schools since 2000. Fiona Gunn, a Junior Infant teacher, is one of those who has found it of great benefit:

'The programme is structured beautifully for easy access, with ideas for activities, songs, rhymes and other useful resources. I found it easy to deliver to my class. We generally covered the work in Circle Time discussions, using concrete materials, language games, play and P.E. etc.
'In order to involve the parents of the children, it was decided that we would meet with them each Monday to outline our language work for the week ahead. At these meetings, they were given a letter detailing the week's topics/concepts and also some 'homework' sheets to do with the children. Although the 'homework' was voluntary, the promise of a sticker for each child meant that those pages were returned very promptly!
'Speaking to parents at parent-teacher meetings, it was clear that most of them were delighted to have been so involved in their children's language development.
'In conclusion I would say that as a teacher it was great to be given such a well-structured, easy-to-use language programme, and the results bear out our positive feeling about the programme.'

The success of Language Towards Literacy is dependent on a number of criteria:

  • Encouraging the value of the printed word, i.e. the classroom becomes a print-rich environment.
  • Regular exposure to books through storytelling, introducing picture sequencing and reading through pictures (e.g. Oxford Reading Tree Stage I).
  • Introducing a phonic awareness system e.g.Letterland
  • Providing a rhyme-rich environment i.e. nursery rhymes, action rhymes.
  • Involving parents in the language programme.
  • Encouraging parents to read regularly to their children, and to use the school and public libraries.

Language Towards Literacy is a substitute for teaching reading in Junior Infants. It is strongly recommended that formal reading is postponed until Senior Infants.

The programme is divided into ten units. Each unit should be worked on over two weeks. Revision weeks should be built into the programme as required.

Language Towards Literacy covers vocabulary, concepts and phonological awareness.

Although Language Towards Literacy was originally developed for Junior and Senior Infant classes, it was quickly picked up by Resource Teachers, and Teachers of Foreign Nationals, who have found it a very useful tool in their language programmes.

The programme for Senior Infants will be published in 2006.

   

Eileen McGann
Speech & Language Therapist


All of the material in this programme is black and white to make photocopying easier. While each school is free to print out or copy as many sheets for their students as needed, reproduction and distribution of this programme to others is not allowed.