Lextutor for Kids: Profiling the Vocabulary of K-2 Learners Hetty Roessingh, PhD email@example.com Tom Cobb, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org www.lextutor.ca/vp/kids Funded in part by (File Number 410-2006-2530)
What is the Lextutor? • A tool for profiling the linguistic output of children whether narrative or written discourse. • Children’s linguistic output does not follow the same pattern as adults. • There is a need for a tool to profile the language of pre-literate youngsters aged 5 – 7 given the rapid increase of generation 1.5.
Questions • What are the high frequency words that children aged 4 – 7 typically use that serve as the building blocks, or the core, for their emergent literacy development? • Beyond this core of spoken vocabulary, what kinds of vocabulary do children have and need that reflects their growing communicative abilities and their cognitive development as they begin to engage with the curriculum demands of school? • What sampling strategies are most efficacious for assessing the vocabulary levels of preliterate children?
What We Know • Children use the first 250 words to communicate around 75 – 80% in their every day talk. • Children of aged 7 should know about 2500 head words.
What We Want to Know • We want to know how to sample and profile a child’s output to tell us whether they are over dependent on the first 250 words and whether the remaining words reflect a good distribution of the words in the increasingly higher vocabulary bands (10 bands of 250 words each). • In other words, linguistic diversity includes • The number of total words • The number of different words • The distribution of words across the word bands • We want to develop profiles of “good” ESL acquisition compared to native speakers.
Developing the Tool • We assembled various word lists of children’s linguistic output. • Criteria for selection of the lists included • List is based on primary, longitudinal research. • List consists of words identified at ages 4, 5, 6, and 7, providing a developmental perspective on language acquisition. • List includes words that children might recognize and use in their initial literacy development (beginning reading and writing efforts). • List of words was generated in various contexts of language use: at play, at home and at school. • The method for generating the language was varied and included open ended, spontaneous children’s talk, as well as directed / scaffolded activity that would promote the child’s best effort at marshaling vocabulary available in the service of naming, describing, explaining, hypothesizing about his/her unfolding understanding of the world. • List included a large sample size. • Time spent in the field gathering the language samples was sufficient for the purposes of generating the list. • The words were collated and leveled into 10 groups of 250 words each. • Each word represented a word family.
Sampling Strategy • The task design used to elicit the language sample took into account the following considerations: 1) developmentally appropriate and cognitively challenging; 2) authentic 3) constructivist and engaging; 4) language focus – factors such as memory capacity of youngsters reduced or eliminated; 5) culturally accessible to a diverse group of children; 6) high interest and motivational value.
A boy, a dog, and a frog (Mercer Mayer, 1967) • The wordless story book A boy, a dog and a frog (Mayer, 1967) was chosen as a prompt and a scaffold for eliciting spontaneous talk. The book consists of 29 black and white sketches of a young boy with his dog seeking to capture a frog. A series of humorous incidents leaves the boy and his dog returning home empty handed. The frog eventually follows their footprints home and joins his new found friends in the bath tub.
Sample of Output (Native Speaker) • He tries to catch a frog. He sees a pond. Then, he sees a frog and he wants to catch it. And then the boy wants to catch the frog but he trips and he ends up in the water. Plop! So does his doggie. And the little boy says, ‘rrrrrrr!!!!!’ and the frog says, ‘ribbit.’ And then the boy tries to catch the frog. ‘Ribbit, ribbit.’ And then he sees the frog and the frog goes, ‘ribbit, ribbit, ribbit.’ Then the boy is going to catch him again. And the dog is swimming away. ‘Woof, woof, woof.’ He doesn’t see the frog. He’s going to catch him in his net. And he ends up catching the dog, and the frog goes over board. And the frog quietly creeps away. He’s angry. And the boy wants to get that frog. But he can’t. He thinks he’s going to hop on the lily pad. So he gives up. He is leaving the frog. He follows the trail. The trail goes to the house. He finds the boy in the bath tub with the dog at the end of the hallway, and he’s so happy to see the frog. The end. And from now on he’ll take care of him.
Sample of Output (ESL) • Taking a walk. He’s going down. He’s running and he’s going to fall. He fell in. His dog fell in. A bucket. The frog jumped. He’s going with the dog. The frog is in the tree. I think he wants to scare him. The frog is watching the boy. The boy is watching to the tree. He wants to catch the frog. He’s going to catch him. He got his dog! He’s under. He got the dog. He feels like he’s angry. I think he’s going to punch him. He looks sad. He’s really sad. I think he’s going to his house. Well, he’s angry. He’s sad. Footprints! I think he’s going to follow the footprints. He’s going to his house. Up to the bathroom. There’s the boy. He’s happy. I don’t know. He’s going to jump into the tub. He’s happy. He’s going to sit on the dog.
Expressive One Word Picture Vocabulary Test • This test efficiently measures a child’s vocabulary level by age and percentile rank. • Each child’s score will be correlated to the vocabulary profile. • For example, for the previous ESL profile (child was 5 years, 6 months old) the EOWPVT scores are as follows: • Raw: 44(ceiling item) –7 (errors) = 37 • Percentile rank: 5 • Age Equiv.: 3-6 • Placing her two years behind her native speaking counterparts. • We will revisit this child a year from now to note patterns of (accelerated) vocabulary development. • We want to know if we can establish a trajectory for ESL learners that is distinguishable from a native speaker profile, a learning disabled profile, and a developmentally delayed profile and target interventions that will bring her to the linguistic thresholds that will permit academic success over time. • That is, will this child be at the 30th percentile a year from now.
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