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Vocabulary development and intervention for English learners in the early grades

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Description:
The purpose of this chapter is to describe the vocabulary development and promising, evidence-based vocabulary interventions for English learners (ELs) from preschool through second grade. To achieve this purpose, we have taken six steps. First, we describe the elements of language development in the native language (L1) and a second language (L2) and how these elements relate to three phases of reading development (i.e., the prereading phase, the learning to read phase, and the reading to learn phase). We contend that in order for ELs to succeed in school, they need a strong language foundation prior to entering kindergarten. This language foundation needs to continue developing during the "learning to read" and "reading to learn" phases. Second, we describe the limitations of current practice in preschool for ELs related to vocabulary instruction and to family involvement to support children's language development. Third, we report curricular challenges faced by ELs in early elementary school, and we relate these challenges to the increase in reading and language demands outlined in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Specific language activities that can help meet some of the demands are provided in a table. Fourth, we synthesize the research on evidence-based vocabulary instruction and intervention and discuss implications for practice with ELs. Fifth, we describe two intervention projects under development that have the potential to improve EL vocabulary and language proficiency in the early grades. We conclude with a summary of the chapter and provide additional resources on the topic. (author abstract)
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