Teaching Treasures™ Language Concepts Article


Reading methods:
Language, written and spoken is very important and should be taught to children starting at a very early age. Parents are the primary educators of children's speech and it is uncommon to find a five year old going to kindergarten and not being able to speak at all. Children with certain disabilities are of course an exception. If you would like to know more Reading Methods may be helpful. Here you will find some information about the phonics system, the look and say method, the context support method and the language experience approach.

If you are new to teaching or not quite sure what a child should know at a certain age, check out Year by Year Guide. It is aimed at parents who teach their children at home but it may also be useful for new teachers or to refresh your memory. The Year-Guide Chart is a guide only to what is usually taught at each level in the four main learning areas maths, English, social studies and science. Not everything is mentioned and it may differ from country to country and in some cases from State to State.

How to teach the English language:
The teaching tips below should give you some indication as how to teach a language. Although the English language was on our minds when we wrote this, the principle is the same should you teach, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch etc.

How to teach a language

alphabetical order







forms of texts


listen & read

other texts used




skills to develop

speak & write









Language concepts:

  • Help children understand that speech can come in the form of writing.
  • Develop children's understanding that writing is a message in the form of print and that print is constant.
  • Show that written language is often different from spoken language.
  • Teach that numbers, letters and words are different.
  • Show the difference between a letter, a word and a sentence.
  • Help children understand that a letter or letters represent a sound within a word.
  • Show them that words form sentences and sentences form messages or stories.
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Spoken and written text understandings:

  • Always write a sentence or sentences under children's drawings.
  • Encourage children to write their own sentences and name.
  • Provide writing areas like a white board, a chalk board or scribbling posters hanging on the wall.
  • Use pictures often to explain and express situations.
  • Encourage children to draw pictures and simple diagrams about key events.
  • Stay on the topic when speaking and keep children focused.
  • Provide hypothetical situations to predict, generalize, imagine and discuss situations.
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  • Read stories, poems, rhyme, rhythm and repetition to children.
  • Retell favorite stories and poems for re-enforcement.
  • Encourage singing of favorite poems, songs and nursery rhymes.
  • Develop children's awareness of correct ordering when they are speaking and writing.
  • Give ample opportunity to construct simple sentence patterns.
  • Provide simple words for children to form basic sentences with.
  • Make comparisons with words - a ball is round - a wheel is round - an apple is round.
  • Experiment with a variety of sentence beginnings and endings.
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Word Awareness:

  • Introduce word games and play oral word games.
  • Draw children's attention to patterns in words and sentences.
  • Provide ample opportunity to extend children's knowledge of word meanings.
  • Expose children to a wide range of vocabulary.
  • Make children aware of gender and collective nouns, synonyms, antonyms, homophones and contractions.
  • Show suffixes, prefixes and word parts.
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Phonology and graphophonics:

  • Encourage children to scribble, make marks and write letters which closely resemble the actual letters.
  • Encourage 'trying' - explain to children that trying is excellent even if they don't get it correct straight away.
  • Use letter names to explain the different letter sounds.
    A = ape – A = armadillo
  • Explain that letter names are constant but the sounds they represent vary - on - one - over
  • Develop the understanding that letter clusters can represent different sounds.
  • Use simple graphophonic characteristics to spell.
  • Manipulate letters and sounds to form different words.
  • Play with words - rhyming and nonsense words.
  • Differentiate between rhyming and non-rhyming words.
  • Maintain rhythm when chanting nursery rhymes.
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Language in speech:

  • Show children how facial expression and gesture may enhance the spoken message or story.
  • Encourage clear speech - repeat unclear sounds, words or sentences.
  • Include volume and tonal variation to make talk easier to listen to.
  • Signal emphasis by using stress, pauses and repetition.
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Conversation manners:

  • Encourage children to offer and respond to greetings.
  • Encourage turn-taking in conversations.
  • Encourage children to wait for an appropriate opening to enter the conversation.
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Telephone usage:

  • Teach what is appropriate information to give over the telephone to strangers or friends.
  • Explain that telephone conversations rely upon the voice and that the other person can not see them.
  • Develop the use of appropriate opening and closing comments.
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  • Encourage comments, sharing and discussion on television experiences.
  • Draw upon the children's memory, knowledge and comprehension of what they watched.
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  • Provide opportunities for basic role playing in a staged drama.
  • Utilise drama to develop further language.
  • Develop role playing in small and large groups, mixed sexes and ages groups.

Language in print - writing:

  • Explain to children that print runs horizontally, from left to right.
  • Show the sequence of printed lines, top to bottom.
  • Show that words are units of print separated by spaces.
  • Explain that written language uses a set of letters in upper and lower case format.
  • Help children understand that the message is in print.
  • Explain printed matter has pages, titles, covers, authors, illustrators and publishers.
  • Take note of punctuation, show how it helps the student as a reader.


  • Develop spelling using as correct as possible, scribbles and marks.
  • Reinforce the use of correct spelling of simple words.
  • Develop simple pattern awareness in words.
  • Encourage children to correct their own spelling errors.
  • Utilise basic children's dictionaries to assist in spelling.
  • Encourage children to look for spelling errors.
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  • Encourage the use of capital letters for sentence beginnings and names.
  • Teach when to place a full-stop, question mark and exclamation mark.
  • Develop awareness of the purpose of punctuation.
  • Provide opportunity for children to experiment with punctuation.

Alphabetical order:

  • Display the alphabet in alphabetical order in a prominent place.
  • Provide opportunities for children to play with alphabet letters in a fun way - books, blocks, friezes, fridge magnets, abc teach it.
  • Help children understand that letters are organised in 
    'alphabetical order' abc.

Books - fiction and nonfiction:

  • Read every day to children from basic books.
  • Show children that books have a front, back, first page etc and illustrations.
  • Explain that books generally tell a story and that illustrations enhance the story.
  • Discuss the title and the author.
  • Explain the function of a book's spine label - library use.
  • Develop the understanding of fiction and non-fiction.
  • Discuss illustrations, maps and diagrams.
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Reference material:

  • Develop an awareness of dictionaries and their functions.
  • Encourage a personal dictionary to make word banks.
  • Explain the functions of maps.
  • Encourage drawing maps.
  • Explain the functions of globes and atlases.
  • Encourage the use of globes and atlases.
  • Provide newspapers and magazines for children to browse through.

Forms of text:

  • Read a variety of narrative and other texts to children frequently.
  • Provide opportunity for children to re-tell and re-write a story.
  • Develop descriptive writing.
  • Encourage children to deliver written and oral descriptions.
  • Introduce reports - give reports, telling; who - what - where - how.
  • Help children understand that reports tell about an event or idea.
  • Encourage written reports presented with illustrations and several pieces of information.
  • Explain the meaning of summaries.
  • Develop the skill of very basic note taking by using key words.
  • Explain to children that often there is more than one point of view about different issues.
  • Explain that interviews are planned meetings and one person asks questions of another.
  • Provide opportunities for children to carry out basic instructions.
  • Provide opportunities to give basic instructions to others who are to carry these out.
  • Introduce letter writing to friends or family.
  • Explain the difference between formal letter writing and informal notes.
  • Organise a formal letter writing session.
  • Invitations and greeting cards are another form of responding and introducing letter writing.
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Other forms of texts:

  • Maps
  • Timetables
  • Advertisements
  • Anecdotes
  • Narratives
  • Fiction
  • Traditional tales
  • Myths and legends
  • Science fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Poetry
  • Nursery rhymes
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Comprehension: Oral comprehension levels may be developed as follows;

  • literal - details, main ideas, sequence, cause and effect, comparison, specific facts, factual and non-factual, characters.
  • inferential - predicting outcomes, supporting details, main idea, sequence, figurative language, comparisons.
  • evaluative - judge between reality and fantasy, fact or opinion, validity, appropriateness, acceptability.
  • appreciative - personal emotional response, identify with character, reaction to author's use of language.
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Listening and reading:

  • Show personal enjoyment of reading and listening.
  • Encourage children's personal response to a story.
  • Encourage the development of predicting an outcome of a story.
  • Discuss the relevance of a book title.
  • Provide opportunity for children to re-tell the story in logical order.
  • Encourage the use of picture cues.
  • Use shared reading techniques of a known book.
  • Encourage children to follow pitch, rhythm and pausing.
  • Provide opportunity for children to silent read before oral reading.
  • Utilise word and name recognition.
  • Use colour names.
  • Use written numbers.
  • Use names of days.
  • Use months and years.
  • Identify personal significance - name of street, town, country, school.

Composing: speaking and writing

  • Explain how different people are addressed as father, principal, president, mr. and mrs.
  • Participate in small and large group debates.
  • Show first, then teach how to address an audience.
  • Develop voice volume skills according to the size of the audience.
  • Encourage direct and clear answers.
  • Discuss general writing goals.
  • Utilise writing activities for topic discussions, brainstorming and story mapping.
  • Encourage children to organise ideas orally and in writing.
  • Encourage the selective use of illustrations.
  • Develop editing and proofing in children's written work.
  • Encourage the use of alternative resources - friends, neighbours.
  • Promote handwriting skills with patterns, shapes, puzzles, scribbles.
  • Use paints, crayons, pencils, construction materials and collage to further children's development.
  • Use alphabet patterns as a lead up to letter formation.
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Develop the following skills:

  • Gross motor coordination
  • Fine motor coordination
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Spatial awareness
  • Orientation
  • Visual awareness
  • Sequencing
  • Left to right skills
  • Upper and lower case letters
  • Letter names and sounds
  • Numerals 0-9
  • Simple punctuation
  • Basic signs for addition and subtraction
  • Style of hand writing - exit strokes, starting place, shape, slope, size, spacing, alignment, paper slant for left and right handed children.
  • Experiment with lined and unlined paper and writing tools.
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Always encourage a comfortable posture and functional pencil grip.


© 2004 Griggs I. M. - Teaching Treasures Publications Other Articles by Ingrid Griggs

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