Language Development and Early Literacy

Home/ Language Development and Early Literacy
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSES2012124

Semester and Year Offered:1st and 3rd (Monsoon Semester 2019)

Course Coordinator and Team:Dr.Sunita Singh

Email of course


Aim:This course examines language and literacy development in young children, especially with respect to biological, cognitive, social and emotional development. It will focus on the fundamental aspects in acquisition and development of language skills. The theories, principles, goals, and methods of integrating the language arts throughout the school curriculum will also be examined. Development of language and early learning capacities of children are inextricably linked. The relationship between language, thought, culture and identity are closely intertwined. In this regard, students will be introduced to current debates and dilemmas related to children’s home language and the language of instruction in classroom, especially in the multilingual context of India.

Course Outcomes

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the socio-cultural factors that influence language development and literacy.
  2. Identify key theories of language development and how they relate to the process of language acquisition in young children
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the reading process among young children with respect to decoding, syntax, comprehension and critical thinking.
  4. Analyse the role of children’s literature in language and literacy learning.
  5. Apply research skills to analyse a child’s text—oral or read aloud.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Unit 1: Sociology of language

Language and literacy is primarily a process of learning to interact with others. Children acquire language through social interactions; thus, language usage varies greatly based on social backgrounds, roles of the speaker and the social settings. This unit focuses on the study of various social and cultural factors that influence the process of language acquisition and literacy.

  1. Nature of language, their functions, and the various symbolic systems
  2. Language, culture, and identity (gender, class, caste)
  3. Language and power: A historical overview of sociolinguistic attitudes in India
  4. Diversity of languages, multilingualism, cultural communities especially in reference to India


Unit 2: Pathways in Language Development

Language development unfolds at a rapid pace during the first four years of life. Children across the world acquire the major components of their native language by the time they are three or four. This unit focuses on the study of the theories, the developmental process and the important milestones in language development.

 Theories of language acquisition and development

  1. Language and the Brain
  2. Stages of Language Development
  3.  Multiple language learners
  4. Language Disorders


Unit 3: Language and Literacy

In literate societies children are exposed to varying degrees to literacy in their homes and communities and begin to imbibe the basic forms and functions of literacy at an early age. This unit focuses on the process of learning to engage in reading, writing and decontextualized discourses.

  1. Historical overview of literacy approaches
  2. How young children learn to read and write
  3. Reading, writing, speaking and listening connection
  4. Developing concepts of books, children’s literature and comprehension of texts
  5. Emergent literacy
  6. Observing and assessing reading and writing


Unit 4: Promoting Literacy Development

This unit focuses on the various approaches and intervention strategies that have been used to support the learning of reading and writing specifically in the Indian context. The evidence will be examined through a historical and contemporary lens to help students understand how current approaches have evolved.

  1. Role of children’s literature in promoting reading and writing
  2. Explicit instruction and the constructivist approach: Phonics and whole language
  3. Research on developing active literacy environments
  4. Home school partnership for literacy development
  5. Introduction to critical literacy


Assessment Details with weights:

  • Language and Literacy Autobiography -10% (end August)
  • Language Sample Analysis -25% (September)
  • Running Records and Reflection -25% (October)
  • Final -30% (as per AUD calendar)
  • Attendance and in-class participation -10% (throughout Semester)


Reading List:

Essential Readings for Unit 1

  • Early Language & Literacy Position Paper (2016). CECED, CARE India, USAID.
  • National Council of Educational Research and Training. (2005). National Focus Group on Teaching of English.Position Paper. New Delhi. Retrieved from
  • National Council of Educational Research and Training. (2005). National Focus Group on Teaching of Indian Languages.Position Paper. New Delhi. Retrieved from
  • NCF Early Childhood Education 2005 (p. 31-48)
  • Luke, A. &Freebody, P. (n. d.) Further notes on the Four Resources Model. Retrieved from:
  • LaDousa, C. (2005). Disparate markets: language, nation, and education in North India. American Ethnologist, 32(3), 460-478.
  • Pattanayak, D. P. (1984).Multilingualism and language politics in India.India International Centre Quarterly, 125-131.
  • Singh, P. K. (2014). Nurturing Linguistic Diversity in Jharkhand.Economic & Political Weekly,
  • 49(51), 17-19.
  • Sridhar, K. K. (1996). Language in education: Minorities and multilingualism in India. International Review of Education, 42(4).pp.327- 347.


Essential Readings for Unit 2

  • Levine, L. E., &Munsch, J. (2010).Child development: An active learning approach: Sage.
  • Chapter 9. Language development, pp. 299-337). Available at
  • Paradis, J., Genesee, F., Crago, M. (2004).Dual language development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
  • Chapter 3.Language cognition connection, pp. 39 - 59.
  • Chapter 4, Bilingual first language, acquisition ,pp 63-89.


Essential Readings for Unit 3

  • Pressley, M. (2002).Reading Instruction that Works: The Case for Balanced Teaching (Ch. 1. Whole Language; Ch. 2: Skilled Reading). NY: Guilford Press. (2002). Beyond Methods: Macrostrategies for teaching language (Ch. 2).
  • Strickland, D. S., & Morrow, L. M. (Eds.). (2000). Beginning reading and writing (Vol. 50).
  • Teachers College Press.Chapter 2: Becoming a reader: A developmentally appropriate approach, pp. 22-34.
  • Hart, B., &Risley, T. (2003). The early catastrophe: The 30 million word gap by age 3. American Educator, 27(4), 6-9. Available at
  • Reutzel, D., &CooterJr, R. B. (2012).The essentials of teaching children to read: the teacher makes the difference. Chapters 1-6.
  • Whitehurst, G. J., &Lonigan, C. J. (1998).Child development and emergent literacy.Child development, 69(3), 848-872.


Essential Readings for Unit 4

  • Jayaram, K (2008) Early Literacy Project – explorations and reflections part 2: Interventions in Hindi classrooms, Contemporary Education Dialogue, (5), 2, pp 175-211.
  • Bernsten, M. (n.d.).Teaching of beginning reading: The Maharashtrian experience and the PSS approach.
  • Sinha, S. (2012). Reading without meaning: The dilemma of Indian classrooms. Language and
  • Language Teaching, 1(1), 22-26.
  • Strickland, D. S., & Morrow, L. M. (Eds.). (2000). Beginning reading and writing (Vol. 50).
  • Teachers College Press. Chapter 9.Teaching young children to be writers, pp. 111-120.
  • Moll, L. C., Saez, R., &Dworin, J. (2001). Exploring biliteracy: Two student case examples of writing as a social practice. The Elementary school journal, 435-449.
  • Gioris, C. & Glazer, J. I. (2009). Literature for young children: Supporting emergent literacy. Boston, MA: Pearson. Chapter 1
  • Lynch-Brown, C., Tomlinson, C. M., & Short, K. G. (2005).Essentials of children's literature.
  • Allyn and Bacon.Chapter 1. Learning about story and literature; Learning about children and literature. pp. 4-28



Recommended Readings for Unit 1

  • Deshpande, Madhav M. (1979), Sociolinguistic Attitudes in India: an Historical Reconstruction, Karoma Publishers, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI
  • Berntsen, Maxine (1973), “The Study of Social Variation in South Asian Languages,” In The Speech of Phaltan: a Study in Linguistic Variation, Unpublished dissertation, University of Pennsylvania (Excerpt from the dissertation). NCF 2005, pp 36-42
  • Finnbogadóttir, V. (2008, August).Education for all in the language of their cultural heritage.
  • Paper presented at the International Conference Globalization and Languages: Building on Our Rich Heritage, Tokyo, Japan. Conference Proceedings, pp. 41-43. retrieved from UNESCO_2008_Globalization_and_Languages.pdf
  • Mohanty, K. (2006). Multilingualism of the unequals and predicaments of education in India: Mother tongue or other tongue? In O. Garcia, T. Skutnabb-Kangas, & M. E. Torres-Guzman.Imagining multilingual schools. pp. 262-279. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
  • NCF Early Childhood Education 2005 (p. 31-48)
  • Paradis, J., Genesee, F., Crago,M. (2011). Dual Language development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. Chapter 1.Language culture connection.pp 27-38
  • Rogoff, Barbara (1990), Apprenticeship in Thinking: Cognitive Development in a Social Context, Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Vanishree, V. M. (2011). Provision for linguistic diversity and linguistic minorities in India. Language in India, 11.
  • Mallikarjun, B. (2004). Indian multilingualism, language policy and the digital divide. Language in India, 4.


Recommended Readings for Unit 2

  • Annamalai, E. (2001). Managing multilingualism in India: Political and Linguistic manifestations. New Delhi: Sage
  • Barac, R., & Bialystok, E. (2012). Multilingual effects on cognitive and linguistic development: Role of language, cultural background, and education. Child Development, 83, 413-422. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01707.x
  • Howard, M. R., &Hulit, L. M. (2001).Born to talk: An introduction to speech and language development. Pearson.


Recommended Readings for Unit 3

  • Gregory, E. (1997). One child, many worlds: Early learning in multicultural communities. New York: Teacher's College Press.
  • Kumar, K. (1989). Social character of learning.Sage. Available at
  • Kumar, K. (2004). What is worth teaching? Orient Blackswan Morrow, L.M. (2011).Literacy development in the early years: Helping children read and write. Allyn and Bacon. ISBN:013248482
  • McLane & McNamee.(1990) Literacy and relationships, Early Literacy, pp 110-112.


Recommended Reading for Unit 4

  • Geetha, V. (2012). Literacy and Reading: A Tamil Experiment. Contemporary Education Dialogue, 9:63. 64-84.
  • Gupta, R. (2013). More than ABC: Instructional Practices and Children’s Understanding of Literacy through English.Contemporary Education Dialogue, 10:37.37-65.
  • Jayaram, K (2008). Early Literacy Project – explorations and reflections part 1: Theoretical perspectives, Contemporary Education Dialogue, (5) 2, pp133-174.
  • Morrow, L.M. (2011).Literacy development in the early years: Helping children read and write.Allyn and Bacon.