Teacher Decisions in Selecting Vocabulary for Instruction to English Language Learners

  • Mark D. Johnson East Carolina University
Keywords high school, ELL, ESL, second language acquisition, vocabulary instruction, English language learners, vocabulary, achievement gap, instructional practices, language comprehension/development
Keywords high school, ELL, ESL, second language acquisition, vocabulary instruction, English language learners, vocabulary, achievement gap, instructional practices, language comprehension/development

Abstract

In response to the paucity of literature on vocabulary instruction among high school-aged English language learners (ELLs), this study used concurrent think-aloud methodology to examine the decisions of high school teachers with little to no experience working with ELLs. Participating teachers were asked to read a sample text, selecting vocabulary they might focus on when working with ELLs in their classes. The results indicated that teacher experience was a key factor in vocabulary selection. Junior teachers in the subject areas focused almost exclusively on local-level comprehension as a rationale for vocabulary selection, whereas senior teachers in the content areas focused on relative word frequency and word formation as criteria for vocabulary selection. Pedagogical implications of the study recommend a focus on productive vocabulary knowledge in addition to receptive vocabulary knowledge, as well as vocabulary instruction integrated across subject areas through collaboration among ESL teachers and their colleagues in the content areas.

Author Biography

Mark D. Johnson, East Carolina University

Mark D. Johnson, Ph.D., is assistant professor of TESOL and Applied Linguistics at East Carolina University, where he teaches second language acquisition, research methods, and language assessment courses for teachers of English as a second language.

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Published
2018-02-22
Section
Articles