Early Language & Literacy Development

Early Language & Literacy Development

Spring Semester
Dr. Deborah Bergman Deitcher
Office Hours: I am usually available before or after class, or by appt.


Short description:

This course will introduce you to the theoretical and practical aspects of children's early language and literacy development. In the first half of the semester we will explore children's oral language development – how it unfolds, theories that help explain this development, and situations that can help or hinder development. In the second half of the semester we will focus on written language development, emergent literacy, and early literacy skills, such as: letter knowledge, phonological awareness, morphological awareness, spelling, etc. We will delve into various theories of reading and how these relate to children's preschool and school environments, including the needs of English Language Learners. This course will focus on research-based understandings of the topics and current issues in language and literacy development. In addition, we will explore how these topics apply practically to children's early learning situations.



Article summaries: In addition to the textbook, there will be a number of research articles to be read during the course of the semester. You will be required to submit a summary of three articles, which will follow the outline that I provide. 30% of final grade

Midterm: One of the best ways to grasp how children learn language is to collect and analyze a sample of real spontaneous child language. You will collect a child language sample from a 2-3 year old child and analyze it in detail at multiple levels of linguistic ability (e.g. phonology, vocabulary, syntax, etc.). 20% of final grade

Final requirement: You may choose a topic on which to write a research-based paper relating to early language or literacy development. The paper must include a review of the literature (at least 6-8 sources) as well as a practical component. The topic and sources must be approved by me. The paper needs to be 8-10 pages (excluding bibliography).

Participation: Participation is crucial to a successful semester.



Attendance is mandatory. Students are permitted a maximum of three unexcused absences without penalty. Any additional absences will affect the final grade and may result in failure of the course.


Final grade: Final grades will be calculated as follows:

Attendance: 5%

Participation: 5%

Article summaries: 30%

Observation write-up: 20%

Final paper: 40%


Academic conduct:

Plagiarism is taken extremely seriously. Any instance of academic misconduct which includes: submitting someone else’s work as your own; failure to accurately cite sources; taking words from another source without using quotation marks; submission of work for which you have previously received credit; working in a group for individual assignments; using unauthorized materials in an exam and sharing your work with other students, will result in failure of the assignment and will likely lead to further disciplinary measures.


Additional requirements:

Cell phones must be turned off and kept in your bag during class!!!

Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 39040, Tel Aviv 6997801, Israel
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