Teaching new words to children with poor existing vocabulary knowledge: a controlled evaluation of the definition and context methods
Article first published online: 31 DEC 2010
2006 Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists
International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
Volume 41, Issue 3, pages 335–354, May-June 2006
How to Cite
Nash, H. and Snowling, M. (2006), Teaching new words to children with poor existing vocabulary knowledge: a controlled evaluation of the definition and context methods. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 41: 335–354. doi: 10.1080/13682820600602295
- Issue published online: 31 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 31 DEC 2010
- Received 21 January 2005; accepted 27 May 2005
- semantic mapping;
- reading comprehension
Background: Children who have poor vocabulary knowledge are at risk of wider language weaknesses and reading comprehension difficulties, which will impact upon their educational achievement. The central question addressed in this paper is how best to teach new vocabulary items to these children.
Aims: To investigate the effects of two different methods of teaching vocabulary on both vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension.
Methods & Procedures: Twenty-four children (aged 7–8 years) with poor existing vocabulary knowledge took part in an intervention study. Half the children were taught new vocabulary items using definitions; the other half were taught a strategy for deriving meanings from written context. Tests of vocabulary knowledge were given before teaching, immediately after teaching and 3 months later.
Outcomes & Results: Immediately after teaching, both groups had improved equivalently in vocabulary knowledge for the taught words. However, 3 months later, the context group showed significantly better expressive vocabulary knowledge. The context group went on to show significantly better comprehension of text containing a number of the taught words and demonstrated that they could use the newly acquired strategy independently to derive meanings from written context.
Conclusions: The context method developed is effective in increasing vocabulary knowledge and improving reading comprehension in children with poor existing vocabulary knowledge, and this is therefore recommended for use with children who require extra help developing vocabulary and comprehension skills.