Students need to be able to use language appropriately for a broad range of
functions and perceive the functions for which others use language.
The purpose of the Oral Language Development Continuum for second-fifth grades
is to provide information for parents, teachers, and other significant adults
as they work with young students. It is a useful tool for assessing students'
development along a continuum of oral language growth as well as providing information
about the competencies that students are expected to learn in second-fifth grades.
On the continuum, descriptors list specific behaviors that detail students'
development at particular ages or grades. The competencies list specific behaviors
that students are expected to learn in second through fifth grade according
to the 1999 North Carolina Standard Course of Study for English Language Arts.
Oral language is the foundation skill that students bring to school. Although
students come to school with different levels of competence in their speaking
and listening abilities, they bring their oral language and experiences as strengths
to future literacy learning. Oral language is the foundation on which reading
is built. Students' oral language abilities are interwoven with learning to
read and write. The oral language students acquire as young students helps them
connect words and sounds with print. Throughout the school years, oral language
is both a means whereby students learn about reading and is a goal of literacy
instruction. Any competence that students develop in oral language pays dividends
in their reading and writing development. Encouraging oral language in the classroom
and at home is a continuing process. It is not something that can be accomplished
in a month or even a year; it requires time and patience to reap the harvest.
Parents, teachers, and the entire school community must work together to support
students in the process.
| Second Grade:7-6 Years
| Third Grade: 8-9 Years
- Explain and use new
concepts and information in own words.
- Increase oral and
written vocabulary by listening, discussing, and
composing text when responding to literature that is read
- Begin to use formal
language and/or literary language patterns, in place of
oral language patterns, as appropriate.
- Use oral communication
to identify, organize, and analyze
- Read aloud with
fluency and comprehension any text appropriate for early
- Respond appropriately
when participating in group discourse by adapting
language and communication behaviors to the situation to
accomplish a specific purpose.
- Use expanded
vocabulary to generate synonyms for commonly over-used
words to increase clarity of oral and written
- facing the
- making eye
- asking questions to
clarify the message.
- asking questions to
gain additional information and ideas.
grade-appropriate text with fluency, comprehension, and
Participate in creative
responses to texts such as discussions, dramatizations, oral
presentations, and plays.
Use oral language
- present information in
a sequenced, logical manner.
- sustain conversation
on a topic.
- share information and
- recount or
- answer open-ended
- Report information on
- explain own
Share oral products in a
variety of ways (e.g., discussions, presentations,
Draw conclusions, make
generalizations, and gather support by referencing the
Summarize main idea(s)
from written or spoken text in succinct language.
| Fourth Grade:9-10 Years
| Fifth Grade:10-11 Years
- Listen actively by:
- asking questions.
what was said.
- interpreting speaker's verbal and non-verbal messages.
speaker's purposes and/or intent.
- Read aloud grade-appropriate
text with fluency, comprehension, and expression demonstrating an awareness
of volume and pace.
- Use oral and written language to:
information and ideas in a clear, concise manner.
- make decisions.
- Make oral and written
presentations using visual aids with an awareness of purpose and audience.
Share self-selected texts from a variety of genres (e.g., poetry, letters,
narratives, essays, presentations).
- Demonstrate understanding in
speaking and writing by appropriate usage of:
- verb tense consistency.
- subject consistency.
Elaborate information and ideas in writing and speaking in using:
and compound sentences.
- regular and irregular verbs.
- Listen actively and critically by:
- delving deeper into the topic.
- elaborating on
the information and ideas presented.
- evaluating information and
- making inferences and drawing
- Identify strategies used by a speaker or writer
to inform, entertain, or influence an audience.
- Read aloud grade-appropriate
text with fluency, comprehension, expression, and personal style demonstrating
an awareness of volume, pace, audience, and purpose.
- Use oral and
written language to:
- formulate hypotheses.
- evaluate information
- present and support arguments.
- influence the
thinking of others.
- Make oral and written presentations
to inform or persuade selecting vocabulary for impact.
understanding in speaking and writing by using:
- troublesome verbs.
objective, and possessive pronouns.
- Elaborate information
and ideas in speaking and writing by using:
- prepositional phrases.
and/or subordinating conjunctions.
- Determine the impact
of word choice on written and spoken language.
- Language to get what we want
- Asserting positive/ negative expressions
Requesting an opinion
- Incidental expressions
- Language to represent the world to others
Language to impart what one knows
- Labeling, noting details
Noting incidents, sequences
- Making generalizations
- Language to develop and maintain one's own unique
- I want some milk.
- I'm first because I'm
- I need a pencil.
- It tastes good to me.
Do you like my new shirt?
- My goodness!
- You're too loud.
- That's a Lexus.
- It's green and blue.
My cookie is bigger than yours.
- My sister is in the hospital.
I have twenty dollars.
- I'm taller than anyone else my age.
- My name is Anne Catherine.
- I'm good at
- I like Siamese cats.
- I'm the only child in my family.
I want to be a teacher when I grow up.
- I'm smart at language.
Ways to Promote Oral
- Encourage children to state their requests clearly.
Help children become aware of how people use language to get what they want.
Encourage children to provide assistance to and seek assistance from peers.
- Engage children in experiences which require them
to observe, record, summarize, and draw conclusions.
- Use open-ended
- Collect data over time. Interpret and draw conclusions
- Have children revise reports and presentations (their
own and others').
- Encourage children to share what they know in
a variety of formats and settings.
- Provide opportunities for children to share personal
opinions, interpretations, and experiences.
- Listen to and talk
with the students personally.
- Create opportunities for students
to listen to and talk with others.
- Language to speculate and predict what will happen
Noting cause/effect relationships
- Noting an event
- Requesting a reason
- Language to control others and the world around
- Requesting directions
- Requesting others'
- Controlling self
- Language to establish and maintain relationships
- Language for its own sake, to express imagination,
- The airplane crashed because the landing gear didn't
- The rock is too heavy to float.
might rain tomorrow.
- We better not run away from home.
Why can't I go?
- Why does this happen?
- Do it this way (to self).
me the biggest one.
- Give me your paper and I'll give it
to the teacher.
- Give me a blue crayon.
me how to do it.
- Where shall I put it?
- Look at me.
- Let's be friends.
- Tell me about...
I like you because...
- Will you play with me?
Would you like for me to help you?
- Let me tell you a story.
- Let's sing a song.
- Let's play house.
Once upon a time...
- Peter Piper picked...
Ways to Promote Oral
- Engage children in problem solving.
Create an environment that encourages inquiry, promotes investigations,
and generates new questions.
- Invite predictions when reading
fiction or non-fiction and in content area studies.
- Talk about why, where, and when people use regulatory
- Let children give directions and explain class
- Encourage children to use more appropriate regulatory
language as teachers use less.
- Let children be in charge
of large and small groups.
- Schedule opportunities for students to share their
strengths with others.
- Provide opportunities for students
to work in collaborative groups. Provide opportunities for students to read
and write together.
- Provide opportunities for students to use their
imaginations through drama, poetry, role playing, puppetry, music, dance,
mime, and discussion.
- Schedule storytelling, read alouds,
- Schedule reading and writing workshops
as a part of the instructional routine.
Allen, Leanne. West Australia Department of Education. (1994). First Steps:
Oral Language Resource Book: Melbourne, Australia: Addison Wesley Longman Australia
Children's Choices. (October, yearly). Primary Level Books. The Reading Teacher.
Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.
Gambrell, Linda B. and Almasi, Janice F. (Eds.). (1996). Lively Discussions!
Fostering Engaged Reading. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.
Heibert, E.H., Pearson, P.D., Taylor, B.M., Richardson, V., and Paris, S.G.
(1998). Every Child a Reader. Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Instruction.
North Carolina English Language Arts Standard Course of Study. (December, 1999).
Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Snow, C.E., Burns, M.S., and Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). Preventing Reading
Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Academic Press.
Staab, Claire. (1992). Oral Language for Today's Classroom. Pippin Publishing
Teachers' Choices. (November, yearly).
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