Oral Language for 2nd 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 2nd grade, readers speak clearly in complete sentences and are easily understood. They begin to use a larger vocabulary and enjoy participating in conversation.

What Does it Look Like?

What questions can be asked to increase oral language skills?

Practice Activities

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

Tell a Joke: Focus on timing and expression while making the child aware of how they speak and how others hear them by practicing jokes.  Tell a Joke (optional)

Role Model Verbal Skills: Become aware of how you speak.  Do you only give one word answers? Do you explain how you feel in ways that are clear? Make your thinking “visible;” model how you make decisions (e.g., “I knew it was going to be really hot today because it felt so warm early in the morning.  By the time the sun is directly above us, it’ll be scorching.  This is why I parked under a tree.  I didn’t want the inside of our car to get that hot, so I parked in the shade and I’ll leave the windows cracked to let cooler air flow in.”).

Use Rich Language: Become aware of the words you select when talking with the child.  Often adults simplify how they speak hoping it will help the child more easily understand what they mean.  Instead, aim to use “rich vocabulary,” interesting words and phrases and bold descriptive words.  Give the child every advantage by being intentionally specific with the words you choose (e.g., “Did you see that gigantic gray dog sprinting across the street?" vs. “Did you see that big dog?”).  When needed, provide a child-friendly definition for an unfamiliar word.

Take Turns When Talking: Ask the child questions about what they’re interested in, their friends, their favorite characters from TV shows, and their favorite books.  Make eye contact and listen closely as they speak.  Take turns when talking with them. Adults sometimes get in a habit of giving instruction but not engaging in conversation with children.  Having meaningful discussions at home helps children develop their vocabulary by allowing them to incorporate the new words they have learned into their conversations.  Talking Topics

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?

Practice Activities (with Printables)

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

CROWD Strategy: 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.  Trifold 1, Trifold 2, Trifold 3.

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!