Fostering vocabulary in early childhood education

Authored by: Vibeke Grøver

The Routledge International Handbook of early Literacy Education

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138787889
eBook ISBN: 9781315766027
Adobe ISBN: 9781317659204


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Children’s vocabulary skills when they enter school are powerful predictors of their reading comprehension years later. This chapter reviews vocabulary instruction and its impact on children’s word learning in early education. Though children also learn from mere exposure to words, rich word meaning explanations support word learning. Vocabulary instruction is most efficient if new words are embedded in meaningful and engaging discourse in which children are invited to participate in identifying word meaning and actively applying the new words. When exposed to new words children have a better chance of arriving successfully at an understanding if they make use of their pragmatic skills. There is some evidence that rich vocabulary instruction such as embedding new words in extended discussions may be more beneficial to children with more developed vocabulary skills. From a practitioner perspective, adapting and fine-tuning the vocabulary instruction to the learner’s needs seems crucial.

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