WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL LEARNING ON VOCABULARY AND READING FLUENCY? - Student Resources

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL LEARNING ON VOCABULARY AND READING FLUENCY?

Whether English is spoken at home – or not – you want your children to understand, speak and read English fluently. How can you help your children along in their language journey? The impact of digital learning on vocabulary and fluency is undeniable, with many digital platforms available to help boost your children’s English skills. First, let’s define digital learning. It includes: 

  • At least one piece of digital technology such as a computer, laptop or mobile phone that that delivers content, and covers digital platforms, resources, systems and apps 
  • Doing internet research or watching online videos in a classroom and teachers using digital devices like smart boards and tablets 

How does this differ from online learning? Online learning simply includes coursework done through the internet via forums, shared documents, email and chat. With this in mind, let’s look at how digital learning can impact vocabulary and pronunciation. 

READING ALOUD AS PART OF THE LEARNING PROCESS 

It all starts with reading. Did you know that reading can directly improve phonics and vocabulary? Of course, as children get older, reading also improves critical thinking and analytical skills.  

Phonics is the connection of different sounds with different letters, or different groupings of letters. Why is phonics so important? If a child doesn’t know what a word means, they can still sound it out. That means they can read much faster without having to stop each time they’re faced with an unfamiliar word. It’s also important that they read aloud, and you read aloud to them. This develops further understanding and fluency, not to mention a love of reading and bonding over a good book with you.  

Of course, it’s also important to learn what these words mean – this is how vocabulary improves. (Tip: get a children’s dictionary and look up new words with your child. Watch their eyes brighten and their learning speed up with each new definition!) So how does digital-based learning play a role in learning how to read? Here are two examples. 

DIGITAL TOOLS BOOST READING SKILLS 

Consider Kumon, that’s part face-to-face, part digital learning and teaching. Students attend a local center two days a week and get in-person help with reading (and math); five other assignments are completed at home. Through Kumon Connect, they complete and submit assignments on a tablet with a stylus, which is then ready for immediate grading and feedback from their Kumon instructor. Kumon Connect students can also use the audio feature of the reading worksheets, which allows them to listen to the contents of the worksheets as they write their answers. Plus, there’s a separate audio book feature with flashcards to practice their sounds.  

But there’s so much more to the program. Students can hear the sounds of the letters and letter combinations, which helps develop their phonemic awareness — the ability to notice, think about and work with the individual sounds. An example of phonemic awareness is the ability to understand that “cat” has three sounds (/k//a//t/) and being able to change the /k/ sound to /b/ to create the word “bat.” This ability is just one of the features that makes this program a real standout among reading programs. 

Another resource to help boost your child’s reading skills digitally is 13 PBS KIDS Games for Reading and Storytelling. PBS KIDS was established as part of the Ready To Learn Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS, “to develop high-quality educational media and resources to advance critical early learning skills for children ages 2-8 to help them succeed in school, work and life.” These literacy games help strengthen your child’s reading skills with their favorite characters like Elmo, Molly of Denali, Clifford, WordGirl and Daniel Tiger. Each center around learning letters, reading and telling stories. 

Without a doubt, digital learning is fast becoming part of your child’s every day, as about 90% of children play digital learning games and over 74% of teachers use digital game-based learning to enhance their lessons. It’s a growing trend that adds up to higher student engagement, greater interest in reading and learning – and improved English skills. 

LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow (and Star Trek) fame, sings the praises of digital learning for reading and vocabulary. “As technology continues to advance, we have the opportunity to provide more customized reading experiences to meet our kids at their individual learning levels. With tools like voice recognition, we can motivate a child to practice reading aloud and then provide real-time guidance through phonetic instruction. Sounding out words and putting them together inspires confidence in young readers.  Confidence leads to fun, and fun leads to activating one’s imagination!”