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The Process of Language Arts, Essay Example

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Essay

Development in elementary-aged children

Between the ages of five and twelve, most children pass through a process that builds upon and increases their ability to read, write, speak, listen, view, and visually represent in relation to language arts and literacy. As T.G. Gunning relates, these six basic elements start to develop in infancy and “progressively become more refined as a child amasses a foundation of oral language, written language, and life experiences,” both inside and outside of the school environment (2010, p. 23).

Clearly, the skills associated with reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing are all dependent upon one another, meaning that reading also involves listening, such as hearing the words while reading a page in a book. Reading also involves speaking, such as reading out loud from the page of a book. In addition, a child views the words or images on the printed page and visually represents the words or images by drawing a picture that represents a complete thought or some type of an image in a picture book.

As the basic building blocks for language arts and literacy in elementary-aged children, all six of these elements are required for the ability to communicate effectively and although some children experience difficulties related to combining the written word with speaking, most by the age of eight or at the third grade level have mastered the basic language arts and are able to use all six of the elements to effectively express themselves in the classroom and at home.

Most professional educators and instructors agree that reading is the keystone for the development of language arts and literacy in elementary-aged children, starting roughly at the first grade level and progressing to the sixth grade level. As T. Salinger points out, reading can be defined as having the capacity to decipher words written in a particular language that represent meaning, connotation, and denotation (1988, p. 154). Reading also incorporates the ability to understand and comprehend the meaning of a word when pronounced or as a symbol and how words are strung together to create sentences and thoughts (Salinger, 1998, p. 155).

For the most part, the development of the ability to read in children begins in infancy through pictures and images that symbolize persons, events, and situations, such as in a picture book, and then progresses to reading itself which can be defined as a process that allows a child to transpose an abstract symbol into a coherent thought which usually occurs at about three years of age.

Much like reading, the ability to write occurs in children at about the same time or around the age of three and then progresses into various levels of achievement and mastery which by the age of eight or so is sufficiently developed to allow the child to express him/herself in words, sentences, and complete thoughts. As J.K. Thompson reminds us, when a child attains the second grade level, he/she should possess a rather large vocabulary and be able to effectively communicate through concrete ideas and complex thought patterns (2003, p. 167).

Perhaps the most difficult and developmentally complex of the six language arts is speaking which normally commences around the age of two and like reading and writing progresses to the point where a child can express him/herself verbally. Salinger adds that most children can effectively communicate verbally by the time they reach three age of five; however, some elementary-aged children require instruction in speaking, perhaps due to not fully understanding the meaning of some words when spoken (1988, p. 167) and the inability to visualize words in thought before speaking them. In essence then, by the age of six, a child should be able to orally communicate via a large and varied vocabulary based on what he/she has heard in school and the home environment.

As an adjunct to speaking, listening is undoubtedly the earliest element to arise in a child, perhaps as young as six months of age, which then continually develops through the elementary school years. Most professional educators consider listening as the primary language arts skill, due to the fact that a child will not be able to effectively communicate if the speaking element is not fully developed by the age of eight at the third grade level. Of course, if a child cannot communicate properly through speaking, the ability to listen becomes somewhat redundant.

As to viewing, G.G. Greene maintains that this element “exceeds the ability to listen by several years, meaning that a child’s capacity to view the world around him begins at birth and develops rapidly” (2001, p. 215). Greene also points out that the ability to recognize visual images, such as the picture of a dog or the face of one’s mother, begins quite early and proceeds into the ability to make a connection between the visual image and spoken and written words that describe the image which occurs around the age of two (2001, p. 218).

This also holds true for the ability to visually represent or transpose information and ideas into a visual image or representation, such as drawing the picture of a lion based on what a child imagines it might look like in real life. More often than not, these visual representations are accompanied by writing and speaking as a sort of three-way communication process (Greene, 2001, p. 221). Thus, all six of the language arts and literacy elements–reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing–are interconnected and depend upon one another via a symbiotic relationship which in most children is fully developed by the age of twelve or the sixth grade level.

References

Greene, G.G. (2001). The development of the language arts from birth through    elementary school. 9th ed. New York: Professional Educators Publications.

Gunning T. G. (2010). Creating literacy instruction for all students. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Salinger, T. (1988). Language arts and literacy for young children. New York: Charles Merrill Publishing Company.

Thompson, J.K. (2003). The Language Arts and Elementary-Aged Children. New York: Prentice-Hall Publishers.

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