Oral Language for 1st Grade

What is Oral Language?

Child on the phone.

Oral Language is sometimes called spoken language. It includes speaking and listening and is the way people communicate with each other.

In 1st grade, readers demonstrate speech that is clear and easy to understand. They continue to build this skill through having conversations and following oral directions.

What Does it Look Like?

What questions can be asked to increase oral language skills?

Practice Activities

Talking While Reading Together: Use the CROWD (complete, recall, open-ended, wh- questions, and distance) strategy to ask different types of questions and begin conversation about the book, passage, or article. Learn more about the CROWD strategy here. Watch Talking While Reading Together.

Talking and Writing in the Kitchen: Talk and write while planning a meal, discussing a recipe, and writing down the needed ingredients.

Expand On Observations: Show the child you are listening by expanding on what they have observed (e.g., If the child points out an insect, ask if they can count the legs or find another insect in the yard., If the child comments on how hot or cold it is, show them a thermometer or look up the temperature to talk about degrees in Fahrenheit.).

How was your day?: Very few children give more than a simple, one word answer when asked this question. Try asking more specific questions with additional follow- up questions to increase the amount of turns taken in a conversation.

  • Who did you play with today? Tell me what you did with them.
  • Did the teacher read a book? What/who was the book about?
  • Who sat next to you at lunch? What did you talk about?

PEER Method:

  • P: Prompt the child with a question about the story. Prompting the child focuses attention, engages the child in the story, and helps the child understand the book. Point to something in the picture, for example, a balloon. "What is that?"
  • E: Evaluate the child's response. "That's right! That's a balloon."
  • E: Expand on what the child said. "That's a big, red balloon! We saw one of those in the grocery store yesterday."
  • R: Repeat or revisit the prompt you started with, encouraging the child to use the new information you've provided. "Can you say big, red balloon?" Each time the book is reread, the expanded vocabulary words are verbalized again.

Don't feel obligated to use the PEER procedure on every page, with every book. Keep it fun! Use PEER when it fits and when the child is engaged with the story. PEER Method example.  PEER Method in Spanish.

Practice Activities (with Printables)

If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.

PEER Strategy: Use the PEER (prompt, evaluate, expand, repeat) strategy to ask different types of questions and begin conversation about the book, passage, or article.  PEER Strategy

Talking and Writing in the Kitchen: Use this resource to engage in conversation with the child while intentionally asking questions, having the child predict, and by following steps as part of the conversation.  Talking and Writing in the Kitchen

Grocery Shop Talk: Use this recourse to engage in conversation while shopping. Use words the child may not hear in other environments (e.g., deli, loaf of bread, 1/2 pound), and ask questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer (e.g., Why should we look in the carton before we decide to buy the eggs?). If desired, write your grocery list on the printed paper, fold the paper in half, and refer to the questions as you shop.  Grocery Shop Talk

Conversation Cards: Use conversation cards any time or place to increase a child’s use and understanding of oral language. Suggestions include at the dinner table, while waiting in a store or restaurant, and during bedtime routines. Use follow up questions to increase the number of turns taken in a conversation.  Conversation Cards

Online Activities

No Online Activities: The best way to support oral language development is engaging in conversation with the child. Increasing the number of turns taken expands the oral language the child hears and uses. Strive for 5 or more!