English Language Arts

Elements of English Language Arts | ELA on the Standards Continuum | ELA Teaching Strategies


Creating literacy-rich experiences for the young learners in your transitional kindergarten class will help ensure that they are able to read at proficiency in third grade, a crucial benchmark for future literacy skills. The National Early Literacy Panel (2008) released findings of a meta-analysis of approximately 500 research studies that identified the correlation between children’s early literacy skills and later literacy development. The following key indicators of later literacy success can provide a focus for teaching English language arts as you develop engaging activities for your young students.

Key precursors to the development of literacy:
  • Conversation and Oral Language: The ability to produce or comprehend spoken language
  • Alphabet Knowledge: The ability to visually discriminate the differences between letters and say the names and sounds associated with printed letters
  • Concepts about Print: Students understand that print has meaning and how books and print work, such as left‐right, front‐back, letters and words
  • Phonological Awareness: The ability to detect, manipulate or analyze the auditory aspects of spoken language, including the ability to distinguish or segment words, syllables, rhymes, and beginning sound
  • Vocabulary and Background Knowledge: A collection of words that relate to children’s experiences and knowledge

Elements of English Language Arts

English Language Arts instructional time in TK should focus on the following competencies with the content areas listening and speaking, reading and writing.

Listening and Speaking
  • oral language development for comprehension and collaboration
  • presentation of knowledge and ideas with support to add increasing detail, description and to express thoughts and feelings

According to The Early Language & Literacy Classroom Observation tool, oral language development is most effectively supported when children are actively engaged in conversations that facilitate mutual exchanges of ideas, opinions and feelings. As a TK teacher, extend conversations in meaningful ways to build specific oral language skills, and additionally introduce and infuse new and challenging vocabulary throughout the day.

Reading and Writing
  • print concepts
  • phonological awareness
  • phonics and word recognition
  • fluency
  • opportunities to produce written communication through dictation, drawing and writing that offer opinions, retell stories and give information

Book reading is an integral part of the daily experience and can occur in a variety of settings and groupings. Engage students in stories to support comprehension, while introducing them to the features of text, authorship, print rules, pictures and ideas, in addition to building vocabulary. Additionally, using rhymes and alliteration throughout the day is a fun way to build children’s awareness of sounds.

Motivate children to use their emerging writing skills by having many materials available throughout the classroom that encourage print and writing, both spontaneously in play and during routines. Model writing and support dictation by writing stories with ideas generated by your students, and support understanding of print conventions by making charts demonstrating upper and lower case letters, spelling and spacing, and other conventions. Help children recognize and learn to write letters of their name and common words, and engage them in the development of environmental print for labels and to express ideas.

English Language Arts on the Standards Continuum

TK allows you the gift of time to move your students along the standards continuum, preparing them for a successful kindergarten year ahead. As there are no set standards for TK, WestEd and the Child Development Division of the California Department of Education developed a publication that aligns the Preschool Learning Foundations with the Kindergarten Common Core State Standards to help guide developmentally appropriate TK instruction. Find the publication here. The alignment of the foundations and the common core standards illustrates the developmental progression of TK-aged students.

The Foundations and Common Core Standards for English Language Arts are organized according to the same basic categories: listening and speaking, reading and writing. The common core state standards also include a category identified as language standards. It includes standards for grammar and vocabulary, covered under listening and speaking in the preschool foundations. Many of the competencies described at the preschool level become more differentiated and lead to more specific competencies at the kindergarten level. The reading and writing common core standards focus on skills that emerge in kindergarten, and therefore have no corresponding content in the preschool foundations.