Language Art Development in the Elementary School

There are six elements in the language art and literary process. These elements are listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and visually representing. While listening, speaking, reading and writing are considered as language arts, viewing and visually representing are considered as important means of communication (Gunning, 2010). Each of these elements is discussed in the context of language arts development in elementary-aged children.


Listening refers to understanding the spoken language (Gunning, 2010). It entails comprehending the connection between words that are spoken and their meaning. It is an active process that involves an individual constructing meaning from sound (Gunning, 2010). For listening to be effective, elementary-aged children need to receive, analyze and evaluate oral messages, while respond to them. To be able to construct meaning out of oral messages and sounds, children should pay attention to the tone, volume, punctuation, gestures and emotions expressed in oral message. This way, they can fully understand the meaning carried by such a message (Gunning, 2010). The success of listening is measured by the learner’s ability to understand the content and intent of oral information (Gunning, 2010). For elementary aged-children, listening can be taught through listening to songs, background music in films and television commercials, where children interpret sounds, instead of focusing on speech. This way, they learn to develop emotions, moods and images communicated through sounds (Gunning, 2010). Additionally, students should work in groups, where a student tells or reads a story while the others are listening. The other students are required to analyze the story later, to enhance their listening skills.


Reading in the context of language arts and literary process refers to understanding written language. It entails the interpretation of the written symbols, and constructing meaning out of them (Gunning, 2010). The success of reading is achieved when students are able to read and differentiate between the literal and the implied meaning of a written text (Gunning, 2010). Reading entails the conversion of written symbols back to sound. Therefore, for elementary-aged children, the first step is fluently decoding written symbols into sounds. This is followed by finding the main idea in the written text and forming an image of the desired meaning (Gunning, 2010). Students are taught to apply their experiences and imagination in the context of written information, which creates a difference between what they know and what is written. Finally, students bridge the gap through reading and understanding written information (Gunning, 2010). Further, students are taught the reading process, which entails of predicting the authors message, reading, confirming the message, forming meaning and integrating it into personal knowledge (Gunning, 2010).


It refers to communicating through written language. The process entails coding oral symbols into written symbols, for others to encode and create meaning (Gunning, 2010). It is a means of expressing the ideas a student has heard or seen. It also entails the expression of emotions, thoughts and experiences by an individual to those who can encode the written symbols and form meaning out of them. Elementary-aged children learn to put their messages in forms such as songs, drama or stories, which express their experiences and emotions in a desired manner. Students are taught vocabularies, sentence structure, sentence organization as well as writing styles. After learning these aspects, they can apply their message to persuade, inform, entertain or describe events. Students learn the application of grammar, styles, spelling and punctuation in enhancing message delivery and encoding (Gunning, 2010). Through understanding these aspects, students can express their ideas through properly organized texts and symbols (Gunning, 2010). Students are taught the process of writing which entails the preparation of an idea, its drafting, writing, editing and finally presenting (Gunning, 2010).


In language art and literary process, speaking refers to the process of communicating using oral language. Therefore, speaking entails conveying messages through sounds (Gunning, 2010). Elementary-aged children learn speaking through the integration of both formal and informal experiences. It entails coding the relevant message to be communicated, and delivering it using the right tone, punctuation, volume and emotions. Students learn speaking through discussing in small groups, performing debates and dramas or through making speeches (Gunning, 2010). Through learning effective speaking, the precision of students’ vocabulary and idea articulation is enhanced. This also assists them in learning to listen, read and write.

Viewing and visually representing

Viewing refers to comprehending visual images, through interpreting them. This is done by combining visual images with written or spoken messages (Gunning, 2010). Visual representing on the other hand entails communicating messages using images, which are either still or motional (Gunning, 2010). Such images can be accompanied by spoken or written words. Elementary-aged children learn how to view and interpret films, music, computer graphics or printed images (Gunning, 2010). In addition, students are taught how imagination helps in reading and understanding. Therefore, the relevance of visual literacy is the ability to transform visual messages into oral messages during viewing. Under visual representing, students learn how to transform oral messages into visual form, without losing the intended meaning (Gunning, 2010).


Gunning, T. (2010). Creating literacy instruction for all students (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon/Pearson Education.

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