Oral Language for Kindergarten

What is Oral Language?

Parent with child.

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

In kindergarten, students are speaking and listening. They are able to follow oral directions, carry on a conversation, and ask and answer questions.

What Does it Look Like?

What can be asked to increase oral language?

Practice Activities

Tune In, Talk More, Take Turns: Tune In means be in the moment by paying attention to what the child is focused on and talking about it. What children focus on is always changing, so stayed tuned in and change your words to match. Once you Tune In, Talk More with the child. Remember, every word you say fills their vocabulary bank and builds their brain. When you Tune In and Talk More, you automatically Take Turns. No matter a child’s age, you can Take Turns and have a conversation.  Learn more about the 3Ts. Watch the 3Ts.

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?

Would You Rather:  Play "Would You Rather...", by giving two options and having the child choose what they think would be better. After the child says which situation they would prefer, have them explain why.  Examples for Would You Rather.

Why?:  Answer genuinely when a child asks, "Why?". First ask if the child has an answer to their question by asking, "What do you think?". Then suggest looking up the answer in a book, on a computer, or on a smart phone. Discuss how the child's answer is similar and/or different from the answer found, increasing the number of turns taken in conversation.

Open Ended Questions:  Ask the child questions that require more than a yes or no answer. If you start with a question that requires a yes or no answer, follow up with opened ended questions (e.g., Did you have a good time at soccer practice? What did the coach teach you? What did you practice most?).

Practice Activities (with Printables)

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

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

Play to Read with a Caregiver: Use the NC Office of Early Learning’s Play to Read with a Caregiver resource to increase the number of turns taken in a conversation. Print 4 slides per page for cards on the go!  Play to Read with a Caregiver

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!