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How is oral language development supported in the Australian educational context?
This study aims to provide insights into the supportive measures that can be used to empower children by improving their literary skills, especially those of writing and reading, with a particular acumen to those children who struggle through school due to learning disabilities like dyslexia. Lawrence and Snow, 2011 have proved that several relationships exist between 'theoretical orientation and instructional implications of oral language' on one hand and reading on the other (Lawrence and Snow, 2011). As long back as 1991, Pearson and Fielding had realised that oral language requires ways and means of modelling and application which will lead to 'gradual release of responsibility' (Pearson and Fielding, 1991). Hence, we shall explore how the changes made in the seriatim Australian educational curriculum have lent support to the development of oral language skills and, in turn, literacy.
Collete Tayler, a professor at the University of Melbourne, had conducted a survey of the current educational methodologies in Western Australia. His survey encompassed early childhood educators, school teachers and school administrators involved in educating children in oral language development from kindergarten to pre-primary and the first-year levels. He found that the pedagogies, assessment and curriculum were not clear and lacked inconsistency. (O'Neill, 2011). Numerous such reviews and surveys have been instrumental in the establishment of the Early Years Learning Framework or EYLF. The EYLF aims to augment literacy in Australia by boosting oral language development in the early years of schooling (O'Neill, 2011).
According to Jenni Connor, 2011, oral language development forms a central part of the literacy goals in the Australian programmes for the development of learning and language.
The primary aim of the EYLF is to prepare a 'cohesive whole-school program' that would certify that there is continuity throughout the early years in school, namely through kindergarten, pre-primary, the first year and the second year (O'Neill, 2011).
Gardner's multiple intelligence theory has made the world responsive to the fact that all children are smart but in different ways (Gardner, 1983). The newest perspective on language learning emphasises inquiry-based strategies which encourage students to ask questions after showing videos or invite them to narrate real-life incidents (Li, 2012). A majority of educational institutions supporting constructivist theory are now stressing the development of critical thinking in students (Li, 2012). The constructivist theory intends to make learning meaningful by analysing metacognitive skills in children through investigations and data gathering and utilising this data for making explanations and deductions (Marx et al 2004).
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