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Head Start teachers' vocabulary instruction and language complexity during storybook reading: Predicting vocabulary outcomes of students in linguistically diverse classrooms

Research Findings: Vocabulary instruction strategies used by Head Start teachers during storybook reading were examined to quantify the level of language complexity found in these storybook reading interactions. The study also examined the relationship between vocabulary instruction strategies and complexity of language during storybook reading and outcomes in student vocabulary while considering whether teachers' strategies and language complexity affect children differently based on children's initial vocabulary level or dual language learner status. Participants were 23 Head Start teachers and 210 children (ages 36-59 months, 42.9% dual language learners). Hierarchical linear regression showed that teachers' use of uncommon words had a different relationship to student outcomes based on students' prior vocabulary knowledge. In addition, a student's status as a dual language learner, the teacher's ratio of vocabulary instruction strategies to words instructed, and the amount of code switching by the teacher were all negatively and significantly related to students' vocabulary outcomes as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III. Practice or Policy: This study suggests that there is a link between teachers' vocabulary instruction strategies and complexity of language during storybook reading and outcomes in student vocabulary. Moreover, the influence of these teacher practices on student outcomes may differ based on students' initial level of vocabulary knowledge. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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