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A systematic review of word selection in early childhood vocabulary instruction

This paper systematically reviews studies on early childhood vocabulary instruction, specifically examining word selection methods and the characteristics of words selected for instruction. We examine various aspects of word selection, including selection methods, the characteristics of the words, words’ difficulty and usefulness as indexed by rating systems, the context from which words were drawn, and the relationship between child and word characteristics. Analyses of 76 studies that met criteria revealed great variability in words and inconsistent adherence to research-based principles of word selection. Researchers prioritized unknown words and words described as Tier 2 when selecting words. The most frequently selected word type was concrete nouns; more than half of all words selected were concrete in nature. A small percentage of target words appeared on published lists of words recommended for instruction. Word selection varied by context, with different types of words selected for science content vs. narrative/fiction. Finally, there were few relationships between child characteristics and word characteristics. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Literature Review

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