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Using Technology to Aid Vocabulary Development in 3-5 Year Olds

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Using Technology to Aid Vocabulary Development in 3-5 Year Olds by seecoo wu There is great concern in this country right now over the significant numbers of students who have limited reading abilities. However, there is good evidence that this can be turned around with preventative teaching strategies that can be introduced when children are as young as three years old. Vocabulary size has been found to be a key determinant in children's reading abilities and academic success (Dickinson, Cote and Smith, 1993). Although reading problems due to small vocabulary size often don't manifest themselves until the third grade (Chall and Jacobs, 1996), the lack of adequate vocabulary acquisition can be traced back to children's earliest years. Recent research into vocabulary acquistion of children ages 3-5 years has shown that it is relatively simple to include teaching methods in the classroom and at home that dramatically improve the vocabulary of all children. Technology has the potential to be an important supplement to these teaching methods. This paper will look at teaching strategies suggested by the recent research and examine the effectiveness of one particular technology package based on the "Arthur" book series to support those teaching strategies. The "Arthur" technology package includes a daily television show, print books with audio cassette, video tapes, CD-Roms, and a Web site. Research Young children have the ability to learn a large number of words very quickly. From the age of 1 1/2 to 6, they learn an average of 9 words a day (Templin, 1957) ...read more.


This can include telling stories, acting stories out, singing, reciting poems, playing games, etc. The children should be involved in analytical discussions and the teacher should have small group discussions with the children when possible. 5. The children should be taught strategies for using contextual or visual clues to try to figure out what a word means. 6. Since the home is just as important as school for vocabulary development in these early years (Snow, 1993), ways should be found to involve families in the learning process as much as possible. Studies have shown ( Segel, 1994; Toomey and Sloane 1994) that most parents are interested and willing to learn techniques to help their children learn. At the beginning of the school year, there should be a meeting and information sent to parents to explain the effort to increase the vocabulary of the children. Parents should be informed of the important role they can play and how they can participate throughout the year. The meetings should explain the rationale of this teaching strategy and show parents how to read with their children and highlight new vocabulary and engage them in analytical discussions. Depending on how much time the parents have, the children would bring home their work or a book every night ( or as often as agreed upon between parents and the teacher) and read with their parents or tell their parents a story that they drew or maybe sing a song that they learned, or parents and children could create a story together that the child could bring into school. ...read more.


The activity guide has hundreds of suggested activities that relate to the stories. In addition, the Web site also has many of the suggestions from both of the guides. Content I decided to look at the "Arthur" series because I found it's technology package met my format criteria best. However, in terms of content, it falls short because it's goal is not to increase vocabulary size, but help beginning readers. Because of this, the vocabulary tends to be very simple. In order to meet the needs of vocabulary development, unfamiliar words would have to be added to the stories and the teacher's guide would have to provide activities that focus on the new vocabulary words. Despite the lack of unfamiliar words, the content does meet the criteria of engaging subject matter and analytical discussions. Children will find the stories interesting because they focus on children in their age range with issues they will find relevant, like getting along with siblings or learning to ride a bicycle. The teacher's guide presents many activities that will engage the children in analytic discussions of the story. Conclusion There is very little media that is specifically designed for early vocabulary acquisition. While the "Arthur" series is an excellent example of the kind of format that is needed, the content is not really designed to address vocabulary development. Other software contain some aspects of vocabulary acquistion, but they are generally incomplete. Because technology can be such a powerful tool for this age group, it is hoped that new products will be developed that contain both a variety of media and a focus on vocabulary. ...read more.

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