Speaking, Reading, and Writing in Children with Language Learning Disabilities: New Paradigms in Research and Practice

Speaking, Reading, and Writing in Children with Language Learning Disabilities: New Paradigms in Research and Practice

Speaking, Reading, and Writing in Children with Language Learning Disabilities: New Paradigms in Research and Practice

Speaking, Reading, and Writing in Children with Language Learning Disabilities: New Paradigms in Research and Practice

Synopsis

The ability to use language in more literate ways has always been a central outcome of education. Today, however, "being literate" requires more than functional literacy, the recognition of printed words as meaningful. It requires the knowledge of how to use language as a tool for analyzing, synthesizing, and integrating what is heard or read in order to arrive at new interpretations. Specialists in education, cognitive psychology, learning disabilities, communication sciences and disorders, and other fields have studied the language learning problems of school age children from their own perspectives. All have tended to emphasize either the oral language component or phonemic awareness. The major influence of phonemic awareness on learning to read and spell is well-researched, but it is not the only relevant focus for efforts in intervention and instruction. An issue is that applications are usually the products of a single discipline or profession, and few integrate an understanding of phonemic awareness with an understanding of the ways in which oral language comprehension and expression support reading, writing, and spelling. Thus, what we have learned about language remains disconnected from what we have learned about literacy; interrelationships between language and literacy are not appreciated; and educational services for students with language and learning disabilities are fragmented as a result. This unique book, a multidisciplinary collaboration, bridges research, practice, and the development of new technologies. It offers the first comprehensive and integrated overview of the multiple factors involved in language learning from late preschool through post high school that must be considered if problems are to be effectively addressed. Practitioners, researchers, and students professionally concerned with these problems will find the book an invaluable resource.

Excerpt

The 1990s produced a significant number of “evidence-based” accounts of research on literacy learning from a variety of sources. These sources included projects funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the U. S. Department of Education, as well as basic and applied research studies conducted at universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Western Europe, and Scandinavia, to name but a few. A major insight emerged from this massive investment in discovering the reasons why too many children develop difficulties with reading and writing. This broad-based research brought into sharp focus the essential role that oracy plays in reading and writing. Children's facility in explicitly managing the spoken language system—its sound structure, morphology, vocabulary, syntax, and discourse—for a wide variety of communicative purposes provides the oral language substrate onto which more literate language knowledge is constructed in both the spoken and print domains. Despite the torrent of evidence that disabilities in reading, writing, and spelling are primarily language-based, the translation of this research into everyday functional practices in-and-out of the classroom continues to move at a pace that, at best, can be described as tepid.

Speaking, Reading, and Writing in Children with Language Learning Disabilities was conceptualized many months ago following the convergence of separate, but related, events. In the late 1990s, the editors of this volume (Butler & Silliman) attended a national summit on research in learning disabilities in Washington, DC, one of the many summits being held by both governmental and association entities at that time. High-level conferences of this kind are designed to bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines. Nevertheless, noticeably absent were researchers whose work took them beyond phonological awareness and decoding to examine other spoken language—literacy relationships that might account for the literacy learning problems of so many students in our nation's schools.

To initiate a broadened dialogue about the language basis of learning disabilities, a transdisciplinary gathering, the West Coast Summit, was . . .

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