Early Childhood Language and Literacy Survey Explores Kindergarten Teachers’ Perceptions Features
Free
Features  |   February 01, 2004
Early Childhood Language and Literacy
Author Notes
  • Anne Shaughnessy, is a kindergarten teacher with the Millard Public Schools in Nebraska, with more than 30 years of experience in teaching young children. Contact her by e-mail at ashaughn@mpsomaha.org.
    Anne Shaughnessy, is a kindergarten teacher with the Millard Public Schools in Nebraska, with more than 30 years of experience in teaching young children. Contact her by e-mail at ashaughn@mpsomaha.org.×
  • Dixie Sanger, is a professor in the department of special education and communication disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Contact her by e-mail at dsanger1@unl.edu.
    Dixie Sanger, is a professor in the department of special education and communication disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Contact her by e-mail at dsanger1@unl.edu.×
  • Carrie Matteucci, is a graduate student and Mitzi Ritzman is a doctoral student majoring in speech-language pathology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
    Carrie Matteucci, is a graduate student and Mitzi Ritzman is a doctoral student majoring in speech-language pathology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.×
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Normal Language Processing / Features
Features   |   February 01, 2004
Early Childhood Language and Literacy
The ASHA Leader, February 2004, Vol. 9, 2-18. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.09022004.2
The ASHA Leader, February 2004, Vol. 9, 2-18. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.09022004.2
Research has repeatedly documented the strong connection between the development of literacy and oral language skills. Although Alan Kamhi has described the important role of the speech-language pathologist in facilitating reading development, it is still not clear whether teachers are aware of the critical role of the SLP.
Teachers need to have an understanding that literacy skills are developed in conjunction with oral language skills in order to collaborate with SLPs to provide best practices for intervention. A limited perspective could result in teachers’ failure to recognize indications of delays in children’s language development and also could influence whether teachers effectively collaborate with SLPs. Young children whose oral language is not developing typically might not receive appropriate support or intervention and, therefore, may experience difficulty learning to read.
The purpose of the study that we are reporting on here was to survey kindergarten teachers about their perceptions of language and literacy development during early childhood, the roles and responsibilities of SLPs, and teacher-delivered interventions to support students’ language development.
The Survey
In one Midwestern state, surveys were mailed to 1,036 kindergarten teachers. Survey items included multiple-choice items, Likert-scale items, and two open-ended questions allowing participants to provide comments.
Responses from 484 (47%) teachers indicated they were familiar with numerous aspects of typical and delayed language development during early childhood, and were knowledgeable about interventions to support students’ linguistic growth and the important role of SLPs in providing services. Findings suggested many of the teachers had some understanding of oral language development and its implications for literacy development. They acknowledged the importance of phonemic awareness activities and children’s experiences with environmental print, books, and other literacy materials.
They agreed that children with weak phonemic awareness are likely to have difficulty learning to read. Teachers agreed that children who have difficulty learning to read should be assessed for language problems. Moreover, findings indicated that professional training in language development is important for teachers of young children. Overall, their responses to Likert-type items suggested they valued the shared role between teachers and SLPs in literacy instruction. Additionally, teachers felt that SLPs provide effective services for children with language-based literacy needs.
Two open-ended questions elicited many valuable comments (n = 737) from 201 teachers concerning their experiences in teaching young children with language-based literacy needs. The following comments represent teachers’ perceptions about the benefits of collaboration in serving these children:
  • I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with some excellent SLPs through the years, and I feel I’ve learned far more from them about language and literacy than in classes.

  • We have an excellent SLP in our school district. We have a collaboration speech class-kindergarten and first grade in which the classroom teacher and the SLP work together on language for young children-an excellent asset for early childhood.

  • Our SLP has been co-teaching with me twice a week in my kindergarten classroom. We have been doing a phonological inventory three times a year. We are very pleased with the increase shown after we started our direct instruction along with our literacy connections.

  • Over the course of my teaching career I have had the opportunity to work with many SLPs. I have always been impressed with their knowledge about how young children grow and develop, how developmental they are in practice, what good diagnosticians they are, what wonderful training they have had, and how well they have been educated.

  • We have an absolutely wonderful SLP in our school. She helps all of us with ideas in how to help our students (verified or not). She goes beyond the call of duty to help students and to help teachers help the students.

Although the majority of teachers’ comments were positive, some expressed frustrations similar to those held by SLPs. Teachers were puzzled about why state standards for verification of language services varied among states. They raised concerns about the perceived inequity of services provided to students in various settings. For example, several teachers commented that they taught in parochial schools and that it was very difficult to initiate the assessment process. They also were concerned about the heavy workloads of SLPs and teachers.
Valuable Perceptions
During a time when SLPs are confronted with heavy workloads, it is beneficial to understand that teachers perceive that we have a valuable role in language and literacy development. Moreover, their comments add insight into the benefits of collaboration when serving children with language and literacy needs.
Overall, their perceptions are consistent with information contained in ASHA’s position statement on the “Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists With Respect to Reading and Writing in Children and Adolescents.” For example, survey findings support that SLPs can contribute to reading and writing instruction through prevention of written language problems by facilitating language acquisition and emergent literacy, by identification of children at risk for reading and writing problems, and by intervention for children with language-based literacy problems.
References
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2000). Roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists with respect to reading and writing in children and adolescents: Guidelines and technical report. Rockville, MD: ASHA. [PubMed] [PubMed]
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2000). Roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists with respect to reading and writing in children and adolescents: Guidelines and technical report. Rockville, MD: ASHA. [PubMed] [PubMed]×
Bochner, S., Price, P., & Jones, J. (1997). Child language development: Learning to talk. London: Whurr.
Bochner, S., Price, P., & Jones, J. (1997). Child language development: Learning to talk. London: Whurr.×
Britton, J. (1992). Language and learning: The importance of speech in children’s development (2nd. Ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Britton, J. (1992). Language and learning: The importance of speech in children’s development (2nd. Ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.×
Fillmore, L. W., & Snow, C. E. (2000). What teachers need to know about language [Electronic version]. Washington, DC: Department of Education.
Fillmore, L. W., & Snow, C. E. (2000). What teachers need to know about language [Electronic version]. Washington, DC: Department of Education.×
Kaderavek, J. N., & Sulzby, E. (2002). Issues in emergent literacy for children with language impairments. In Watson, L. R., Crais, E. R., & Layton, T. L. (Eds.), Handbook of early language impairment in children: Assessment and treatment (pp. 199–244). Canada: Delmar Thompson Learning.
Kaderavek, J. N., & Sulzby, E. (2002). Issues in emergent literacy for children with language impairments. In Watson, L. R., Crais, E. R., & Layton, T. L. (Eds.), Handbook of early language impairment in children: Assessment and treatment (pp. 199–244). Canada: Delmar Thompson Learning.×
Kamhi, A. G. (2003, April 15). The role of the SLP in improving reading fluency. The ASHA Leader, 8(7), 6-8.
Kamhi, A. G. (2003, April 15). The role of the SLP in improving reading fluency. The ASHA Leader, 8(7), 6-8.×
Kavale, K. A., & Reese, J. H. (1991). Teacher beliefs and perceptions about learning disabilities: A survey of Iowa practitioners. Learning Disability Quarterly, 14, 141–160. [Article]
Kavale, K. A., & Reese, J. H. (1991). Teacher beliefs and perceptions about learning disabilities: A survey of Iowa practitioners. Learning Disability Quarterly, 14, 141–160. [Article] ×
Moats, L. C. (1994). The missing foundation in teacher education: Knowledge of the structures of spoken and written language. Annals of Dyslexia, 44, 164–169.
Moats, L. C. (1994). The missing foundation in teacher education: Knowledge of the structures of spoken and written language. Annals of Dyslexia, 44, 164–169.×
Moats, L. C., & Lyon, R. G. (1996). Wanted: Teachers with knowledge of language. Topics in Language Disorders, 16(2), 73-86. [Article]
Moats, L. C., & Lyon, R. G. (1996). Wanted: Teachers with knowledge of language. Topics in Language Disorders, 16(2), 73-86. [Article] ×
Raban, B. (2001). Talking to think, learn, and teach. In Smith, P. G. (Ed.), Talking classrooms: Shaping children’s learning through oral language instruction (pp. 27-41). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Raban, B. (2001). Talking to think, learn, and teach. In Smith, P. G. (Ed.), Talking classrooms: Shaping children’s learning through oral language instruction (pp. 27-41). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.×
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
February 2004
Volume 9, Issue 2