Early Elementary Students ' Word Knowledge

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Introduction

Researchers suggest that early elementary students’ word knowledge is a determining factor of reading comprehension both in early elementary school and throughout their schooling (Juel & Deffes, 2004). Specifically, one such argument is, “Vocabulary is an increasingly important predictor of reading comprehension in higher grades. It is a strong predictor of fourth grade reading achievement and the main predictor by seventh or eighth grade. By the middle elementary grades, 95% of kids can read more words than they can understand. From third grade on the main limiting factor for the majority of children is vocabulary, not reading mechanics” (Kame’enui & Baumann, 2012, p. 34). While the relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension appears to be established, determining which instructional methods to effectively increase students word knowledge and comprehension is vitally important.

Statement of the Problem

Reading comprehension requires understanding the meanings of words, sentences, and texts. Vocabulary refers to the knowledge of lexical meanings of words and the concepts connected to these meanings. Differences in the size of vocabulary have an effect on word recognition as well as reading comprehension (Arrnoutse, Van Leeuwe, Voeten, & Oud, 2001). Vocabulary is a principle contributor to fluency, comprehension, and achievement (Bromley, 2007, p. 522). However, the key question is, does vocabulary instruction improve reading
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