Early language development was shown to be associated with later development of literacy skills, both oral and written, by authors Preston, Frost, Mencl, Fulbright, Landi, Grigorenko, Jacobsen, and Pugh in this 2010 study.
The authors compared elementary-aged children from 4 years 10 months to 12 years 8 months who had been reported to have had early, “on time,” and late-onset speech development. With tests that included the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (Dunn and Dunn, 1997); the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (Wagner et al., 1999); the Gray Oral Reading Test (Wiederholt and Bryant, 2001) the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (Torgesen et al., 1999) and several subtests of the Woodcock Johnson-III Tests of Achievement (Woodcock et al., 2001), both oral and written language skills were tested, as well as fMRI tests that showed brain activity during literacy tasks.
The results were consistent with previous studies cited by the authors that showed that early language development has a relationship with literacy skills later in school, and that there are differences in the brain areas activated while doing tasks that involve literacy skills Typically, children speak their first words at around 12 months and begin to put two or more words together before their second birthday. In this study, the authors used parent reports of their child’s first two word sentences as the measure for group membership.
These findings may show that early intervention for development of oral language could be important to reading development later in school.
Preson, J. L., Frost, S. J., Mencl, W. Einar., Fulbright, R. K., Landi, N., Grigorenko, E., Jacobsen, L., & Pugh, K. R. (2010). Early and lte talkers: School-age language, literacy and neurolinguistic differences. Brain, 133, 2185–2195.