The idea that reading comprehension depends on oral language skill is captured in the ‘simple view of reading’ discussed in Appendix 1 of the final report: Independent review of the teaching of early reading (March 2006).
According to this view of reading, reading comprehension is the product of word recognition skills and listening comprehension skills. Recognising (reading) the words on the page is vital to reading comprehension; if a child cannot read the words, then they will quite obviously be unable to extract meaning from the written word. Once written words are recognised they can be understood as long as they are in the child’s oral vocabulary. Unfamiliar words that are not already in the child’s oral vocabulary start to acquire aspects of their meaning from the context within which they have been read; that is, reading gradually becomes a major source of vocabulary development. Once the words are recognised, they can be input to the language comprehension system to understand what a writer conveys. It is well recognised that children vary in the ease with which they can decode. They also vary in their listening comprehension, and consequently in their reading comprehension. An effective reader has good word reading and good listening comprehension skills, as shown in the upper right quadrant of the figure below. Poor reading comprehension can occur with or without poor word reading, as shown in both lower quadrants of the figure (see Nation, 2005).
From an educational viewpoint this means that practitioners and teachers must encourage the development of oral language skills in order to safeguard children’s reading comprehension. They also need to encourage the development of specific strategies for reading comprehension and, importantly, they need to encourage children to practise their developing reading skills. Children need frequent opportunities to read during shared, guided and independent reading sessions.
Reading comprehension is a highly interactive process; it draws on general knowledge of vocabulary as well as on our experience of the world. This in turn enables us to increase our knowledge in these areas.
Extract from : http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/48275