document-54.pdf - Vocabulary Instruction for Young English Learners A Cross-cultural Comparative Study Examining Practices for a Growing Population

document-54.pdf - Vocabulary Instruction for Young English...

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The International Journal of Literacies Volume 22, Issue 2, 2015, , ISSN 2327-0136© Common Ground, Katarina Silvestri, All Rights Reserved Permissions: [email protected] Vocabulary Instruction for Young English Learners: A Cross-cultural Comparative Study Examining Practices for a Growing Population Katarina Silvestri, SUNY Buffalo State College, USA Abstract: Vocabulary development is an integral component of language acquisition. This is especially important to students who are acquiring a second language. In this descriptive, comparative case study, the similarities and differences between vocabulary instructional approaches used for young English Learners (ELs) of two public schools in different nations – the United States (U.S.) and Zambia – are explored. Data were collected through coded lesson observations with field notes and participant interviews. Codes were derived from common practices described in the literature surrounding vocabulary instructional approaches for young ELs. Similarities between the two schools include a high frequency of supplemental actions for explicit vocabulary instruction, use of repetition and usage, and varied exposures to vocabulary. Differences in vocabulary instructional practices between the two schools include time spent engaged in rich oral language experiences and explicit instructional methods. While both classrooms clearly use practices supported by the literature, contextual aspects of each classroom are evidently critical factors in selection of vocabulary instructional approaches. This study provides a real-life lens through which educators may view the frequency and implementation of these vocabulary instructional practices. Keywords: Vocabulary Instruction, English Learners, Case StudyIntroduction ocabulary is an integral component of literacy education. As one of the five “pillars” of modern reading curriculum (Berne and Blachowicz 2008), it joins phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension as one of the broad parts of the whole in regards to helping students become literate individuals. Vocabulary acquisition in the early years of life, in terms of rate and number of words learned, appears to be a powerful predictor of how well students will learn vocabulary in the future, which potentially can influence one of the overarching goals of literacy instruction: reading comprehension ability (Beck and McKeown 1991; Biemiller 2005; Biemiller and Boote 2006; Graves 2006; Robbins and Ehri 1994). This correlation has placed particular significance on vocabulary instruction in the primary grades. Young students with smaller vocabularies will likely continue to learn words at a slower rate throughout their lives; without early and rigorous intervention, these students’ future vocabulary acquisition and reading ability will likely be impeded (Biemiller and Boote 2006). There are multiple ways to support early vocabulary acquisition, such as storybook reading (Biemiller and
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