Vocabulary Instruction for Young English Learners: A Cross-cultural Comparative Study Examining Practices for a Growing Population

By Katarina Silvestri.

Published by The International Journal of Literacies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 11, 2015 $US5.00

Vocabulary development is an integral component of language acquisition. This is especially important to students who are acquiring a second language. In this descriptive, comparative case study, the similarities and differences between vocabulary instructional approaches used for young English Learners (ELs) of two public schools in different nations – the United States (U.S.) and Zambia – are explored. Data were collected through coded lesson observations with field notes and participant interviews. Codes were derived from common practices described in the literature surrounding vocabulary instructional approaches for young ELs. Similarities between the two schools include a high frequency of supplemental actions for explicit vocabulary instruction, use of repetition and usage, and varied exposures to vocabulary. Differences in vocabulary instructional practices between the two schools include time spent engaged in rich oral language experiences and explicit instructional methods. While both classrooms clearly use practices supported by the literature, contextual aspects of each classroom are evidently critical factors in selection of vocabulary instructional approaches. This study provides a real-life lens through which educators may view the frequency and implementation of these vocabulary instructional practices.

Keywords: vocabulary instruction, English Learners, case study

The International Journal of Literacies, Volume 22, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.37-50. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 11, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 395.114KB)).

Katarina Silvestri

Graduate Student, Elementary Education and Reading, State University of New York at Buffalo State College, Buffalo, New York, USA