Improving Oral Language Print

A recent article in The West Australian reports a concerning trend of children entering schools with low oral language skills which is having an impact on the literacy and learning levels these students will achieve within schools.


The article recommends that schools need to implement systematic teaching of oral language skills. Read on for suggestions on how to achieve this.

Improving Oral Language

Our Oral Language Approach

PLD has always been aware of the link between oral language and written language. This infographic explains that a child’s vocabulary, sentence structure, comprehension and ability to process verbal instructions and communicate thoughts and ideas is directly linked to overall academic outcomes.


Suggestion 1: Provide information to parents

As explained in the above article, societal changes are having a significant impact on our children. Families are living busy lives, there has been a dramatic increase in screen time and parenting styles have changed. e.g. less discussion time at the dinner table.

PLD believes most children require home and school to work together to help children maximise their potential. Schools are in an excellent position to provide quality information to the families within their community and offers an extensive range of downloadable milestone and information sheets. These sheets provide information on children’s development and can be disseminated to parents and the wider community within newsletters, websites etc. The blue sheets have been written by speech pathologists, the red sheets by occupational therapists and the green sheets by educators.

Oral language milestone sheets to download

Language, literacy & motor milestones to download

Suggestion 2: Schools establish oral language home programs

Improving Oral LanguageUndoubtedly, children benefit when home and school work together. Schools are again in an excellent position to foster this relationship through the addition of a short oral language task into the home routine.

Here’s an example of a 5-10 minute addition to the home routine…
Families are provided with the type of picture books that are ideal for their children, the type of questions their children should be able to answer and also the type of oral responses that children should be able to answer. Parents are encouraged to read the supplied picture book each night. Within this process, 3 or 4 comprehension questions are presented to the child.

Another home option includes the ‘semantic scenes’ program with scripted questions based upon A3 coloured pictures.

Recent West Australian research has highlighted that parents tend to stop reading to their children once they are receiving reading books, so a process like this is something relatively easy for time-poor parents.


Suggestion 3: Invest in school-based oral language programs

Improving Oral Language

High performing schools invest in consistent implementation of programs across the school. High performing schools also invest in the junior primary to establish key areas early in the schooling process. The link between oral language and literacy means that schools will be more likely to facilitate the literacy outcomes they seek when investing in oral language as well.

PLD produces a range of oral language programs written by speech pathologists and identified by their blue covers and can be viewed in full on the links below.