ture, and technology.
Vocabulary knowledge plays a key role in literacy development and subsequent academic success (Gleason & Ratner, 2017). According to the National Early Literacy Panel (2009), there is efficacy in implicit vocabulary instruction. That is, parents and educators utilize naturalistic environments such as shared book reading, routines and play situations as “teachable moments” for new vocabulary growth. Likewise, there have been numerous studies demonstrating the positive impact of direct, explicit vocabulary instruction on both immediate word identification (decoding) and learning and longer-term reading comprehension (Baker, Kame’enui, & Simmons, 1995; Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2013; Biemiller, 2004; Desjardin, Ambrose, & Eisenburg, 2009; Marzano, 2004). Desjardin et al., (2009) report that children with richer vocabulary and syntax skills…have a stronger representation of word parts, and these represented segments promote growth in phonological awareness. Because classrooms and words are heterogeneous in nature, students need a comprehensive vocabulary program that incorporates both direct and indirect approaches to lexical development.
This research report will expand on direct vocabulary instruction techniques, particularly in the stage that Beck, McKeown, and Kucan (2013) indicate should be implemented as soon as possible after initial word instruction—generalizing meaning applying vocabulary knowledge in a variety of ways and in a variety of contexts. This is a step that is crucial in terms of explicit instruction and affords greater student engagement with newly learned vocabulary. This author will also review the literature in terms of best practice for selecting fast mapping versus slow mapping teaching techniques for vocabulary. Additionally, sections will be devoted to the types of vocabulary on which educators should focus and the practice of building word consciousness. Nagy (2005) and Stanovich (1986) have documented the reciprocal nature of vocabulary and comprehension in their research. By focusing on the aforementioned elements, students can expand their lexicon (vocabulary breadth) and deepen their knowledge of vocabulary (vocabulary depth) which will subsequently reinforce comprehension skills.
Types of Vocabulary
Children throughout their lives develop four kinds of vocabulary: listening vocabulary, speaking vocabulary, reading vocabulary and writing vocabulary. Many students, especially those from literacy-rich home environments, enter kindergarten with listening and speaking vocabularies that are well developed. Listening vocabulary is the largest. It is comprised of words that the child hears and understands. All other types of vocabulary are simply subsets of listening vocabulary (Montgomery, 2006). Figure 1 shows the relationship between these four types of vocabulary from Pikulski and Templeton (2004, p. 2). Explicit vocabulary instruction, if implemented with fidelity, should address all four types of vocabulary.
Fast Mapping vs. Extended Mapping
Fast mapping refers to the ability of a child to learn a new word with one or two exposures. Typically, fast mapping is thought of in the development of early vocabulary in infants and toddlers (Gleason & Ratner, 2017). However, using the concept of fast mapping, it is possible that school-aged children can also benefit from this technique. Introducing a word and providing meaningful context (e.g., pictures or using the word in a meaningful, context-rich
sentence) can foster quick knowledge of the word without lengthy explicit instruction. Does every vocabulary word lend itself to fast mapping? That is the educator’s decision. This author recommends asking the following questions:
Figure 1. Types of vocabulary (Pikulski & Templeton, 2004, p. 2).