Promoting Vocabulary Learning in Young Children Who Are D/deaf and Hard of Hearing: Translating Research into Practice

By Williams, Cheri | American Annals of the Deaf, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Promoting Vocabulary Learning in Young Children Who Are D/deaf and Hard of Hearing: Translating Research into Practice


Williams, Cheri, American Annals of the Deaf


VOCABULARY KNOWLEDGE is strongly associated with reading achievement and becomes increasingly predictive of overall reading proficiency as children progress through the elementary grades. Children who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing often begin schooling with small meaning vocabularies, a disadvantage that puts them at risk of struggling to learn to read. Recent research on vocabulary intervention with young children who have typical hearing demonstrates the effectiveness of targeted, contextualized instruction on children's word learning and provides insights for early childhood educators of young d/Deaf and hard of hearing children. In the present essay, which is grounded in the qualitative similarity hypothesis (Paul, 2010, in press; Paul & Lee, 2010) and sociocultural theories of learning, the author argues for evidence-based vocabulary interventions for young d/Deaf and hard of hearing children that are rooted in the contemporary research literature.

Since the mid- 1940s, research has demonstrated an intimate relationship between vocabulary knowledge and reading achievement (Beck & McKeown, 2007; Davis, 1944; McKeown, Beck, Omanson, & Perfetti, 1983; Rummelhart & Ortony, 1977; Singer, 1965; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Thurstone, 1946). The size of children's meaning vocabularies - that is, the number of words children have meanings for in their speaking and listening vocabularies - is strongly related to how well they will understand what they read (Stahl & Nagy, 2006). In fact, vocabulary knowledge becomes increasingly predictive of general reading proficiency as students progress through the elementary grades (Scarborough, 2005; Storch & Whitehurst, 2002). A large and rich vocabulary is essential if children are to understand the variety of books they will read in school, especially given the vocabulary demands of content-area texts. Indeed, studies have demonstrated a substantial relationship between vocabulary size in first grade and later reading comprehension (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1997; Scarborough, 2001). Fortunately, vocabulary instruction can have a large and educationally significant impact on young children's language development (Marculis & Neuman, 2010), and so it behooves early childhood educators to enhance children's vocabulary learning early on, particularly that of children at risk (Neuman, 2009).

And now is the time to do so. The last decade has brought significant progress in the implementation of universal newborn hearing screening and noteworthy advances in amplification technologies. Universal newborn hearing screening paves the way for earlier identification, and thus earlier intervention. More children are enrolled in birth-to-three programs at earlier ages (Sass-Lehrer, 2011). Improvements in digital hearing aids and cochlear implants provide enhanced access to spoken language, and increasing numbers of young children are receiving cochlear implants at younger ages, as early as 12 months. While the educational outcomes of this technology are variable (E Spencer, Marschark, & L. Spencer, 2011), children who benefit from cochlear implants are finding the task of acquiring spoken language less onerous. Vocabulary growth in particular can be quite rapid for what appears to be a critical period following cochlear implantation (Connor, Hieber, Arts, & Zwolan, 2000).

Given these advances in the field, and the significant implications of vocabulary knowledge to subsequent achievement, in this essay I argue that parents and educators of young children who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing should reconsider the importance of promoting vocabulary learning in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. My argument is grounded in sociocultural theories of learning, as well as the qualitative similarity hypothesis (Paul, 2010, in press; Paul & Lee, 2010) - conceptualizations I explicate in the first section of this essay. In the second section, I review current research on vocabulary instruction in early childhood for children who have typical hearing.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Promoting Vocabulary Learning in Young Children Who Are D/deaf and Hard of Hearing: Translating Research into Practice
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?