A New Study on What Vocabulary to Teach Young Children

In their study of 238 preschoolers, Leung, Silverman, Nandakumar, Qian, and Hines’ (2011) findings suggest that both monolingual English speakers and English Language Learners learned English words in a similar order – meaning that the order of word difficulty of their word list was the similar for both groups.  However, overall, those words were more difficult for the English Language  Learners than for monolingual English speakers.  What does this mean for instruction and ESL activities?  It means that teachers need to provide varied and literature- and context-rich instruction in vocabulary for all of their students but this is especially necessary for English Language learners who will need exemplary vocabulary instruction.  It also means that teachers need to engage in constant assessment of vocabulary comprehension of their English as a Second Language students, teaching vocabulary that they will encounter in their shared and independent reading before, during, and after they read.

For some flexible and varied vocabulary teaching tips, click on the links below:

Word Sort

Word Actions

Word Categories

Wikki Your Text

What’s the Word?

Vocabulary Haiku

This or That Sorting

Story Talk


Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen
Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen


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