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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Valuable Resource, 3 Feb 2011
By 
D. Harry (South East Asia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was eager for this book to arrive and I have not been disappointed. As a course writer and teacher trainer for teacher training and development courses, I have found this book extremely useful and informative. I especially appreciate the structured, reader-friendly way in which the research is presented, and I think busy teachers will find the very firm and logical links between theory and practice refreshing and enlightening.

There are many references available on Early Literacy and Phonics programmes and the importance of phonological and phoneme awareness. Where this text improves on those, in my opinion, is that it also provides a very solid focus on the vital role of oral language development in the development of literacy. Attention to this aspect, I believe, is becoming increasingly relevant across the world with more and more children learning to read in a second or additional language, be it English or any other. In my own context, this is often overlooked at the expense of phonics skills and 'decoding'. I therefore found the research findings on oral language development presented in this book, and the detailed description of successful interventions in this area especially useful.

While the material focuses primarily on interventions for children at risk, I am sure that knowledge of the contents will be useful in any Early Years Literacy context, for teachers and teaching assistants alike. The discussions are amply supported by charts, figures and graphs, making the information very accessible. This, and the comprehensive appendices,contribute to making the book a valuable resource for teachers of literacy in the Early Years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just What I Want, 21 Feb 2012
Have you ever looked for a readable, sound, research-basedand practical book which will give you new insight into creating interventions to develop language and literacy in your pupils. Try 'Developing Language and Literacy', co-authored by a team of researchers well established as experts in the fields of language and literacy.

The opening chapter provides the ground-work i.e the theoretical framework behind the research and progammes described in the text. In clear steps it describes the foundations upon which literacy is built: the structure of language, the relationship between language skills and learning to read, the distinctions between reading difficulties arising from dyslexia and those relevant to children with comprehension or to learning English as a second language.

In the subsequent chapter the authors describe the methods and rigorous research carried out by the team and which forms the basis for the interventions decsribed in the second part of the book.

What is of particular value in this study, and consequently in the vision of reading instruction which the book promotes, is the detail with which the process of becoming an efficient reader can be pinpointed; or, to put it another way, the detail with which the 'road blocks' to reading can be ascertained. Learning to read is a very individual process within wide parameters of general 'stages' of development. Personalising reading interventions requires a process of assessment, monitoring, recording. In this programme these become the 'modus vivendi' of the tutor.

The detailed explication of the Oral Language and the Phonology with Reading Programmes become the heart - and probably the 'raison d'etre'- of this publication. The chapter that deals with how the programme can be adapted for children with different needs is particularly relevant. It provides the kind of reference that each of us in our individual educational circumstances will find invaluable.

The practical mapping out of sessions, the inclusion of sample material and handouts for sessions, the references, the quick, ready-reckoner for monitoring reading strategies and developing sight word reading make this little book a must for the tutor's library.

From the point of view of any professional involved in the recommendation and provision of reading interventions , particularly early interventions, 'Developing Language and Literacy' provides structured, well researched and relatively easy-to-deliver, easy-to-adapt programmes that are not 'blanket' interventions but detailed to address the specific areas of difficulty in the child's road to attaining literacy. When interventions are targetted the likelihood of achieving successful progress is high.

'Developing Language and Literacy' is an informative, readable, scholarly and very usable publication. I have recommended it with enthusiasm to tutors with whom I work
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An evidence-based approach, 29 Jan 2012
A well written book which covers the background research about literacy in an accessible and informative way. The authors underline the importance of evidence based practice in the evaluation of teaching methods that target reading and phonological skills as well as the need for effective screening, formal testing and monitoring when supporting children with reading difficulties.

The authors describe two evidence-based interventions: `phonology with reading' and `oral language' programmes, going into further detail about the structure of the sessions and the practicalities of delivering these - which is likely to be especially helpful for TA's. A further chapter describes adaptations to the intervention for children with Down Syndrome and for those who respond poorly to interventions.

I have used the general principles of oral language intervention in my teaching practice (e.g. to structure the sessions: introduction, listening rules, recap, plenary with reinforcement of the listening rules) as well as the multi-sensory method of learning vocabulary. Using a multi-sensory approach was also an effective method of engaging all the children. Adopting the same overall session structure was particularly useful in helping children to gain confidence to contribute to future sessions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important and innovative work., 15 Aug 2011
By 
Mr. J. J. Bald (Linton, Uk) - See all my reviews
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This is a disciplined and clearly-written account of an investigation into the links between early language development and literacy problems that is the culmination of over thirty years of research, and contains within it the germ of a solution. For all of that time, Professors Snowling and Hulme have taken a practical and controlled view of the issues involved in early literacy and have made significant discoveries, chief among them the link between problems with speech in early childhood and subsequent assessments of dyslexia. They have worked patiently and hard, with respect for the limitations of evidence and the constraints of research methods. I hope that all of the authors of this excellent book will forgive me for putting Maggie and Charles first - I declare a bias, indeed an interest, in a disinterested sense of the word, having followed the research since their first publication

In this book, they and their co-authors have set up random allocated controlled trials of teaching, provided by trained teaching assistants, designed to promote the development of spoken language and to tackle problems that put children at risk of failing to learn to read and write properly. Professor Snowling has described the organisation of the study, which involved 29 schools, as "a logistical nightmare". However, she and her colleagues have woken up in bright sunshine, with statistically and educationally significant outcomes that are an important breakthrough, not only in literacy, but in the training and deployment of teaching assistants. At the York conference presenting the work, the authors were full of praise for the work of the assistants and quite rightly - this is the first fully documented account of what assistants can achieve, and for that alone is very important.

The two key programmes, phonology plus reading, and oral language, are described in great detail in the book and should be read by everyone concerned with early literacy. I have a couple of quibbles, the most important of which is the suggestion on p2 that "by the time children go to school, they typically have an oral vocabulary of 14,000 words". As Professor Snowling and many others have shown great disparities in the pre-school language experience of children, it is impossible to know what is typical, or to put a figure on it.

The research was supported by a grant of £212k from the Nuffield Foundation. It has demonstrated that randomised controlled trials are possible in education, though to me this is still one criterion among many for evaluating research. Focus on the right groups of pupils, clear design and consistent monitoring of teaching techniques, and long term follow up are all just as important (technical paper here). This study followed pupils up after 15 months, which is good, though follow up to 11, as in the Clackmannanshire studies, should be undertaken if possible. There is no quick fix here, either real or implied - as with Reading Recovery, the social and intellectual conditions that are part of the cause of literacy problems are still in place once the intervention has finished. But life is short. This research is the best we have had to date in this area, and much better than most of that surrounding Reading Recovery.
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