There is a long history of research looking into the importance of spoken language as foundational for learning to read and write. But, this isn't just about reading literacy, it's also about social cognition and connection. This is backed up both by science of reading research and by neurobiological research (Hong et al., 2018; Marks et al., 2019; McBride-Chang, et al., 2005; Romeo, et al., 2018; Rueckla et al., 2015; Zoll, Feinberg, & Saylor, 2023).
So, it is a clear priority of all of us who work with young children to intentionally focus on developing their vocabulary, background knowledge, and spoken language capacity. But, outside of Montessori environments and the world of specialists (like speech language pathologists), there is very little explicit work done with children to develop vocabulary.
This is a vast oversight that we can rectify quite simply. Here is some guidance from our Language Teacher Education Album on what we can do.