Oral Language Development: The Foundation of Later Literacy Success and Social Emotional Well-Being

Mrs Sharlene Samuel-may1

1Trumpet Early Years Consultancy, Perth, Australia

Research shows that 22% of children start primary school developmentally vulnerable (Thrive by Five, 2020).“Vocabulary skills at ages four and five are an outcome of brain development in the early years.  These measures are predictive of subsequent language and literacy skills… [which], for males, [is] associated with incidents of teenage antisocial behaviour” (Margaret Norrie McCain and Fraser Mustard, 1999).The level of vulnerability in the emotional maturity domain in 2018 remained the same as in 2015 at 8.4%, however remains higher than in 2012 at 7.6%.  The Australian Early Developmental Census has also demonstrated that even with the significant variance of children attending pre-school programs in WA VS Australia (7% greater) the percentage of children remaining developmentally vulnerable in their language and at risk emotionally is not reduced equally.  More significantly percentage of children at risk for their language is actually higher in WA.  Raising the question as to why there hasn’t been a more significant increase of performance given we have nationwide frameworks and standards such as the NQS and the EYLF?  “Research has shown that interactions children have with parents and other caregivers in the first months and years of life have a powerful lifelong influence on their cognitive, social and emotional development” (Delay, Pacchiano & Shimpi, 2007).  This symposium will provide participants with the current research on the importance of vocabulary development and strategies to promote the learning of new words, the importance of reading in the early years and strategies to support later literacy development and the importance of social skills and emotional literacy and strategies on how to teach them. The symposium is a call to action! High quality, universally accessible early childhood programs driven by research on early brain development needs to be on every ECEC’s agenda as this is a public health issue.


Sharlene Samuel-May is currently a Deputy Principal of the North East Language Development Centre, an independent public school in Western Australia that caters for students with Developmental Language Disorder.   Her passion and commitment to improve the outcomes of children particularly in the areas of oral language, early literacy and social development in the early years has led to the establishment of Trumpet Early Years Consultancy.  Sharlene believes all children have the right to access quality education and works diligently to promote this philosophy across the child care and education sector.