Literature Review Of Children Vocabulary Acquisition Education Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Broad definition of vocabulary is the knowledge of words and word meanings. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defined vocabulary as all words that someone knows or uses. Vocabulary acquisition is linguistic achievement that is really important and complex acquired by children and adults. For the first five years of children's lives, they are involved in the process of acquiring a meaning or oral vocabulary which contain words that they understand when they hear them and they can use in their daily speech (Pikulski & Templeton, 2004). From a study done by MacWhinney (1998), it appeared that infants learned to attend to and produce language with ease, but to acquire a language is not an easy task (Phythian-Sence & Wagner, 2007). Before children can learn to communicate with words, their gestures signal an understanding of language. A child is said to have acquired vocabulary when he or she not just only link spoken sounds with objects and events in the environment, but also understand that words reference objects and concepts (Phythian-Sence & Wagner, 2007). Leung (1992) in her study explored vocabulary acquisition in oral contexts using a repeated read-aloud with children in kindergarten and first grade. She found that read-aloud influenced children's acquisition of words for familiar concepts, but did not significantly influence the acquisition of words representing unfamiliar concepts (Phythian-Sence & Wagner, 2007). In short, we can say that children acquire new words with and without direct instruction with environment influence their acquisition.

2.2 Parents and Economic Background

Parents play an important role in children's vocabulary acquisition. Parents help their children learn about objects and actions through daily conversation. At this point of time, children already exposed to a range of vocabulary. Although research clearly stated that parents influenced the vocabulary acquisition of the children, there are differences whether this occurs across families that vary in education and economic background. Hart and Risley (1995) in their study found that, children from lower income families used vocabulary that lack of rich content. In that study, they also stressed on the differences in children's vocabulary size due to socioeconomic status and other risk factors. The result in their study indicated that, children who have from parents of professionals had a cumulative vocabulary of about 1,100 words, those from working class families had about 650 words, and those from welfare families had just over 400 words (Hart & Risley, 1995). Many research found that children from low-income environments score more poorly on measures of phonemic awareness and vocabulary during preschool and elementary school. Raz and Bryant (1990) found such a strong association between family income, phonemic awareness, and reading that they concluded that observed differences among SES groups in elementary school could be explained by differences in awareness and sensitivity to phonemes in preschool as cited by Rush (1999). Research by Dickinson and Tabors (2001) has shown that children reared in lower-SES conditions develop vocabulary and language use more slowly than children from higher-SES households (Sinatra, 2008). New research done by Rowe and other researchers suggested that the income and education levels of parents are connected to a baby's skills with gesturing, which in turn can indicate whether a child will develop strong language abilities. Their findings showed that during the first session, the children from high-income households gestured 24 times, compared to 13 gestures from kids in low-income homes. Then both groups were tested for vocabulary, the kids from the high-income families scored 117, compared to 93 in the other group (2009).

2.3 Bilingualism and Vocabulary Acquisition

There are two major sources of data about optimal conditions for L1 vocabulary development: studies of the home environments in which children typically acquire large vocabularies and studies of instructional practices that support vocabulary (Snow & Kim, 2007). These types of data are important in supporting the vocabulary acquisition in first language. Hart and Risley (1995) indicated that the best predictors of young children's vocabulary acquisition in L1 are the quantity of speech heard. Pearson and Fernandez (1994) suggested that these same features of prediction in efficient lexical acquisition to be used in bilingual and monolingual children. Their findings concerned about the importance of the home language environment in bilingual infants' vocabulary development (Snow & Kim, 2007). Apart from that, vocabulary acquisition is thought as having two components which are learning new concepts and learning new phonological forms. So, a L2 learner who has acquire many lexical items in L1 has the advantage that he or she needs to learn only the new forms in the L2 while a child who is monolingual has to acquire both of the components in learning lexical items of L2 (Snow & Kim, 2007).

Bilingualism provides the advantages for children's vocabulary acquisition. Peal and Lambert (1962) are one of the earlier researchers to find out the positive effects of intelligence for bilingualism. They conclude that bilingualism results in greater mental flexibility and abstract thought. They also suggested that bilingualism is not causing 'confused thinking' but its improved thinking (Steinberg & Sciarini, 2006). Quay (1992) in his study showed that a Spanish-English bilingual child acquired a number of equivalent words in both languages and then almost always used the words correctly by language context. His study reported that the bilingual child used words for which she knew a translation equivalent (that is, words with equivalent meanings in the two languages) in the appropriate linguistic context as cited in (Nicoladis & Secco, 2000). As cited in Thordardottir, Weismer and Smith (1997), Garcia stated that, learning is to be facilitated under a bilingual condition compared to a monolingual condition in his research regarding Empirical studies of L2 vocabulary learning in minority children acquiring English (1983).