Whenteaching language comprehension, it is important to consider that not everyonein the class will have the same level of understanding. Some children withlearning disabilities find it harder than others to pick up comprehension andunderstand what is happening around them, both academically and socially.Research by Kristin Stanberry and Lee Swanson in 2009 demonstrates some ways toimprove language comprehension skills. It is imperative to direct the teaching specificallyto the individuals needs, this is often best done through observing the childin a mainstream lesson and establishing which aspects they struggle with themost. Teaching language comprehension could be done through cues such as imageson the page or by reading words known to the pupil and making educated guessesof other words to fit in the sentence.
Modelling other pupils is also aneffective way of helping less able students to understand the text, havingother members of the class give some suggestions and leaving the simpler onesto the less able students both involves them and increases their confidence. Drama canbe a very effective way of helping children understand the text and interpretit in a different way. Bolton et al 1983 found that “drama helps to improvestudents’ reading, speaking and listening abilities as well as vocabulary acquisition”.It provides “specific opportunities for literacy development giving studentsthe chance to use all skills in decoding meaning and expanding vocabulary” (Kempeand Nicholson 2007). Getting children actively involved in the dialog they arereading or working on helps them to understand the context and feelings withinthe story on a personal level.
Phonicsforms the base of all development within early years and is an essential frameworkto be built upon in order to recognise common words used in every daysituations. In 2010, Education Secretary, Michael Gove introduced a year 1phonics-based progress check so teachers can identify any students not reachingtheir expected reading level to help those in need of extra support. Gove said “toomany primary school children were failing to reach the expected standards”.Figures released showed in 2010, 15% of 7 year-olds failed to reach theexpected level in reading at key stage 1, and this increased to 19% of 11year-olds. The RoseReport by Sir Jim Rose, published in 2006, resulted in Synthetic Phonics beingmade mandatory in English and Welsh primary schools in 2007. “Synthetic Phonicsoffers the vast majority of young children the best and most direct route tobecoming skilled readers and writers” (The Rose Report 2006). The Rose Review howeverhas been criticised by Hall (2007) who said the review is “an individualisticapproach to learning”.
It is important therefore, that teachers take intoconsiderations the individual needs of their pupils and do not simply rely onthe review itself.