Introduction This literature review will seek to examine current and previous theories and research that explored the role of vocabulary development in the acquisition of English as a second language, primarily with English language learners (ELLs).
It will also highlight that vocabulary development is a crucial element in the facilitation of language acquisition, which includes ELLs literacy, communication skills and preparing students for future academic success and achievement. Moreover, the literature review will investigate the different instructional approaches and benefits of employing specific instructional techniques, multimedia instruction and direct instruction. In addition, the critical role of instruction on vocabulary acquisition and development will be implemented in a small group intervention and the effectiveness of this approach will be analysed. Finally, this literature review will conclude by highlighting the need for this study, considering that there is a gap in research in the context of JJS.Second language acquisition: Stephen Krashen’s hypotheses provide a different understanding of how the brain processes a second language and consist of six main hypotheses: the Acquisition-Learning hypothesis, the Monitor hypothesis, the Natural Order hypothesis, the Input hypothesis, the Affective Filter hypothesis and the Reading Hypothesis (Krashen, and Terrell, 1983). This theory proposes that learning a language follows a specific usual order, particularly the rules of the language.
Thus, frequently grammatical structures in most languages are usually learned earlier than others (Ibid).These hypotheses have similarities to Noam Chomsky’s Theory, which claims that individuals have a fitted Language Acquisition Device (LAD), a blueprint or capability that gives children the ability to develop language from a universal language rules (Rathus, A 2010). Chomsky suggests that children usually learn specific structures at different stages of their lives and that the acquisition of language for young children is biologically programmed (Rathus, 2010). Similarly, Terrell and Krashen “input theory”, promotes language input as slightly more advanced than the child’s current level of comprehension (Krashen, 1985). Krashen claims that through the natural approach, context and extra linguistic information, the child will step to the next stage and then the process repeats, aiding the learning process (Krashen and Terrell, 1983). It can be argued that in a classroom environment, mainly where the importance is placed on rich input, teachers focus on transferring information while children merely listen. This approach could primarily limit the child’s opportunities to use the language, and evidently, students will answer questions using short replies. Swain’s (2000b) ‘output’ theory suggests that occasions for language production, which he refers to as ‘output’ and opportunities to practice communicating in the targeted language, should be encouraged with a particular focus on linguistic accuracy.
Swain stresses that this approach could encourage children to focus more on the uses of the language and reflect on techniques to convey meaning (Swain, 1985). It is clear that as a teacher, rich second language input is pivotal, however, once input and output are combined, fluency could be enhanced significantly. Also, this could promote children’s awareness and reflection on existing gaps in knowledge, during classroom activities and collaborative discussions (Swain, 2000b).Early interventionIt is important to recognize that vocabulary development for all students is a crucial element for future success in the education and schooling system. It should also be emphasized that for English language learners, vocabulary development is particularly significant. Justice et al., (2005) suggest that vocabulary development varies significantly during the primary years.
Children start school in the early years and are introduced to different vocabulary levels. Some children’s vocabulary develops sooner than others and institutions have no control over the external environment and influences that affect children before they start school. However, when less attention is placed on developing the children’s vocabulary acquisition during the early years of schooling, it becomes more difficult to close the gap between the students. It seems that to address the vocabulary gap in schools, it is best to introduce vocabulary and stress its importance in the early years of primary education. Justice et al., (2005) argue that previous research findings highlighted early shortfalls in vocabulary skills, indicating that a child might be at risk of successfully accomplishing future reading and academic achievements.
This means that there is an interlink between the introduction of vocabulary in the kindergarten stage and future reading and academic success. For this reason, this area needs to be addressed and focus on instructional strategies and school programs to attempt to bridge the gap in kindergartners’ vocabulary development.Instruction strategiesPresently, the responsibility of teaching the English language to students, whose first language is not English, has fallen on the school system (Hollingsworth and Ybarra, 2013). It is, therefore, important to recognize that ELLs have the same right to access a rich curriculum and teachers that are knowledgeable of different strategies to teach and cater for the needs of a diverse number of abilities and needs. The connection between future success in reading comprehension skills and vocabulary knowledge is clear as indicated by various research studies in this field. Moreover, Silverman and Hines (2009) claim that some researchers found poor vocabulary knowledge to be a severe problem for many English language learners.
It is for this reason that the way we support these students should be a high priority. Also, that the knowledge and evidence of such methods or approaches should be provided to classroom teachers. Multimedia instruction is found to provide positive results in supporting vocabulary development of ELLs.
This consists of introducing the information through the combination of visuals and sounds such as music, videos of live action, animation and text (Silverman and Hines, 2009).Paivio’s (1986) maintain that systems for processing non-verbal and verbal data are separate and use a dual-coding theory. This theory suggests that when a child learns new information, which is processed both verbally and non-verbally, both systems work and support one another and allow for greater information recall (Silverman and Hines, 2009). This approach can be implemented during typical story-time intervention sessions when children listen to a book being read and see book illustrations combined with multimedia presentations. The practice of vocabulary and comprehension standards of the book could support ELLs to learn and achieve (Ibid)It is evident that direct instruction is a prevalent and widespread teaching approach that can be seen in early years in kindergartens (Hollingsworth and Ybarra, 2006). An example of direct instruction could be pre-or post-teaching of vocabulary for a targeted story (Beck, Mckeown and Kucan, 2002).
Baumann, Kame’enui and Ash (2003) suggest that vocabulary instruction should also consist of indirect instruction approaches. Indirect instruction can include exposing children to unknown words and supporting them to develop an appreciation for text and how words express meaning. Also, Carlo et al., (2004) present a different approach to vocabulary instruction.
They conducted a study, which focused on building vocabulary knowledge and promoting fluency for ELLs and monolingual children. The intervention supported children to make links between targeted word meanings to words and concepts in their first language. Consequently, this allowed the children to have a deeper understanding of the words’ meanings and facilitated learning of concepts connected to the target word. Carlo et al. (2004) study used the strategy of teaching children to tap into cognate knowledge to help discover meaning of new targeted words in English. There is, however, an essential difference between Silverman and Hines (2009) and Carlo et al.
, (2004) approaches. According to Carlo et al. (2004), learning a new language requires the first language to have some similarities with the second language being taught. With Silverman and Hines’ (2009) approach, the first language has no importance and does not contribute to the effectiveness of the strategy. Their approach seems suitable in the context in which my research will take place, since the selected children for this research, all speak Arabic as their first language, and this language does not have any similarities to English in word meaning, formation or communication purposes. In the same breath, it could be debated that there may not be a single method that is proven to be best for vocabulary instruction (the National Reading Panel, 2000).
The National Reading Panel (2000), after analysing various research findings, suggested that schools should use vocabulary in both the direct and the indirect approaches.Explanations of target words Various studies agree on the effectiveness of providing students with some explanations of target words during story-time reading activities. Scarborough (1998) claimed that the instructional method frequently applied was to provide children with explanations of target words, such as acting out word meanings, linking illustrations in the book to the words and picture props during classroom story time (Justice et al., 2005). Penno et al., (2002) also conducted a study in a two-story reading condition and applied the method of providing children with explanations of target words. The first condition was controlled, and the children listened to the story three times.
In the second study and in addition to listening to the story three times, they provided children with explanations or descriptions of target words for that particular story. Children in the second condition were able to correctly recognise more target words in a multiple- choice assessments than the controlled condition study. Beck and Mckeown (2007) agree on the benefits of explanations of target words and found in their study with kindergarten and grade 1 children, that vocabulary knowledge improved by providing students with a rich instruction such as explanations of targeted word meanings in different contexts after story-time. It is possible that vocabulary instruction could improve students’ vocabulary development and offer opportunities to become familiar with words that are not part of the particular story been taught. Carey (1978) points out that between the ages of two and six, learning takes place by mapping or quickly connecting newly introduced vocabulary and that students can rapidly map new vocabulary words in a read-aloud activity, either by merely listening to a story or providing a brief explanation for target words (Biemiller and Boote 2006). However, this raises the question of how a student can find the right meaning of a targeted word with indirect or unfinished instruction. Also, this would be particularly tricky for ELLs. Besides, it seems that in Carey and Bartlett’s study, rapid mapping was frequently unsuccessful, as only one in ten children was able to connect the word to its correct meaning (Carey, 1978).
However, the evidence seems to strongly suggest that this approach to vocabulary instruction maybe time sufficient, yet this approach might not offer an intensity level required to effectively support many ELLs to significantly improve learning outcomes. Studies showed that focusing more attention on vocabulary development instruction can affect future reading comprehension achievement (Justice et al., 2005) and teaching vocabulary instruction of specifically targeted vocabulary words may dramatically increase comprehension of texts (Biemiller and Boote 2006). Small-group instructionIt can be argued that small group instruction in classrooms allow opportunities for teachers to deliver differentiated instructions to target a specific small group of students with their reading test scores.
Tharp (1982) results Highlighted that students in small groups, where lessons were delivered through small- group discussions, scored significantly higher and their vocabulary acquisition developed. Tayor and Pearson (2009) also recognize the positive impact of small group instruction and state that schools which implement and spend more time on small group learning are more successful in achieving the desired outcome for their students, rather than in whole group learning. Tayor and Pearson (2009) add that this approach provides educators with the opportunity to assess students more thoroughly and build calculated strategies around those findings. It is clear from my experience that small group instruction can significantly increase engagement with groups of students, with diverse abilities or similar academic needs, who can be supported together. Another possibility of using small-group learning in my active research is that small-group discussion and reading aloud may also provide students with a more productive word environment that is conducive to learning.
Conclusion Consequently, the research proposes the active implementation of methods to increase vocabulary development for ELLs to significantly improve their future reading and academic success. Hence, an early introduction is best and should be introduced at the kindergarten stage. Research suggests that multimedia instruction method would be useful in engaging, providing a productive word environment, allowing deeper understanding, developing learning of students of all levels and learning needs. Implementing this method in intervention would allow the provision of multiple inputs, including explanations of target words and achievement of multiple outputs of understanding. Currently, in JJS school classrooms, teachers provide the same input within classrooms of EELs and Eos as well as similar levels of output, primarily worksheets and textbooks designed by curriculum providers in New York, although with no additional provision or modifications in instruction for ELLs.
Nevertheless, there seems to be limited research on the effects of vocabulary understanding of target words, using multimedia instruction combined with explanations of target words within a small group intervention in the context of ELLs in the Golf countries. In conclusion, implementing a small group intervention to investigate the impact of vocabulary development on ELLs using multimedia instruction combined with explanations of target words is needed within the context of JJS. Moreover, this study could encourage an open and in-depth discussion with curriculum developers and educational administrators about effectively supporting ELLs and the various vocabulary instruction that could be used to achieve this aim.