Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Learning Word Meanings from Teachers’ Repeated Story Read-Aloud

Today I took some time to read an article by Lu-Chun Lin from the Institute of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.  The article was entitled, "Learning Word Meanings from Teachers’ Repeated Story Read-Aloud in EFL Primary Classrooms."  The full text of the article can be found here.

The following are my own thoughts/opinions and points of interest while reading.
  • According to the research of Elley (1989), there is empirical evidence of vocabulary learning from listening to stories read aloud by classroom teachers.
    • Native speaking NZ students aged 7 and 8 obtained 15% vocabulary gains from read alouds 3 times a week without teacher explanation of target words. 
    • Gains still evident when tested 3 months later
      • I would love to look into this further and see if they published what assessment was used to assess the students' vocabulary gains
  • It is the repeated usage of vocabulary words in the SAME text that enables student understanding and retention. 
      • Although I have been reading a chapter book aloud multiple times during the week, I need to also be reading topic specific (rich language) picture books (3-4 times each) aloud to my class.  While reading Wider and Deeper is important for developing dialogic conversations in order for retention of key vocabulary words it is important to read the same text. 
  • Several studies show that the initial language proficiency indicates the level in which a student will be able to make higher word level gains. 
    • Researchers asked if this was due to those with higher levels of proficiency having more intrinsic motivation to learn (and apply) the new words
  • In a study by Elley, target words were explained to the children by providing a synonym, acting out the words or pointing to the picture. 
    • This is something that we do often as teachers, especially when reading with our micro-groups that are on the lower end of the colour wheel. However, as students develop a more independent approach to reading their assigned texts, we tend to focus more on comprehension and making connections across a range of texts.
My Take Away: I will continue to read aloud to my class for pure enjoyment from a chapter book during the term.  However, I will also be adding some read aloud picture books for vocabulary acquisition being sure to spend some time focusing in on the key words within the book and providing synonyms, reflecting back to the picture/diagram, or having the students act out those words.

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