Social Learning, Language and Literacy

By Hay, Ian; Fielding-Barnsley, Ruth | Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, March 2012 | Go to article overview

Social Learning, Language and Literacy

Hay, Ian, Fielding-Barnsley, Ruth, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood

A CONSISTENT THEME IN the research literature associated with children's learning and cognitive development is the importance of appropriate instruction in the early school years, with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development report (Hall & Moats, 1999) claiming that appropriate instruction in the Prep Year was four times more effective in improving a child's reading skills, compared to the situation of appropriate instruction being delayed until Year 4. Children's school achievement is, however, multi-dimensional and dependent upon a range of interactive skills. For example, in terms of reading achievement the evidence is that both vocabulary knowledge and phonemic awareness influence children's level of alphabetic knowledge which is highly correlated with their sight word knowledge (Byrne, Fielding-Barnsley & Ashley, 2000) which directly and indirectly influences children's level of reading fluency and then reading comprehension (Neuman & Dickson, 2001 ; Scarborough, 2005; Share & Stanovich, 1995).

Underlying these academic achievements in literacy are two learning processes. One is the children's developing cognitive memory which needs to quickly process the orthographical features of the word (its letters and unit sounds) and link this to the semantic meaning of that word (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1997). The second process is motivational, with the child needing to interact with enough text to become an independent reader, able to use a range of semantic and orthographical strategies to comprehend and decode words quickly and so achieve meaning from a variety of texts (Bishop & Leonard, 2000). There is recurring evidence that these two processes are sensitive to the quality of the language and literacy environment, both in the home (Catts, Fey, Zhang & Tomblin, 1999; Farkas & Boron, 2004) and in out-of-home settings (Barnett, 2001; Paul, 2007). For example, in respect of communicative exchanges, Hart and Risley (1995) reported that children of middle-class, well-educated parents have two to three times as many opportunities to converse with their parents than do low-income children. There is also evidence that these language and emergent literacy skills can be influenced by interventions designed to improve the overall richness of the child's language and literacy environment (Senechal, 2006; Wasik, Bond & Hindman, 2006) and in programs that increase the adult and child language interactions (Bierman et al., 2008; Hay & Fielding-Barnsley, 2006, 2007; Whitehurst et al., 1994).

Closing the language processing gap

Home factors play a significant role in language and dialogue patterns that influence children's learning in the early childhood setting (Morgan & Goldstein, 2004; Nation, 2005) but there is significant variability in terms of children's readiness for formal classroom reading instruction. In particular, Australian research on young children's language levels and their socioeconomic status identified that, in terms of receptive language (listening), approximately 15 per cent of the children starting Year 1 did not have the receptive language skills to cope fully in that environment. A similar pattern was identified for children's expressive language (speaking) abilities, with one in three children below the five years-six months expressive language benchmark (Hay & Fielding-Barnsley, 2009). In addition, children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) homes had greater delays in their language readiness for school, compared to children from higher SES homes. These gaps in children's vocabulary and language competencies need to be addressed and appropriate programming provided (Hall & Moats, 1999; Morrow & Tracey, 2007; Paul, 2007), otherwise motivation for reading drops away and children are delayed in developing their alphabetical knowledge and word fluency skills.

To facilitate closing this expressive and receptive language gap for children the authors suggest the following. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Social Learning, Language and Literacy


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.