Vocabulary instruction for emergent bilinguals (Crosson et al., 2019)

Purpose: In this clinical focus article, the authors argue for robust vocabulary instruction with emergent bilingual learners both in inclusive classroom settings and in clinical settings for emergent bilinguals with language and literacy disorders. Robust vocabulary instruction focuses on high-utility academic words that carry abstract meanings and appear in texts across content areas (e.g., diminish, ambiguous). For emergent bilinguals, vocabulary instruction should be infused with morphological analysis emphasizing Latin roots to support students to problem-solve meanings of new, unfamiliar words and make connections between semantic clusters of related words in English. An innovative and critical component of this instructional approach is to support emergent bilinguals to leverage their linguistic resources by making connections to their home languages. Five design principles for teaching emergent bilinguals to engage in morphological analysis with Latin roots are presented. These design principles are illustrated with examples of evidence-based practices from intervention materials for instruction. Examples are drawn from varied instructional contexts. We present a synthesis of findings from implementation trials of our instructional program. Finally, application of the approach to clinical settings for speech-language pathologists are addressed.
Conclusions: Clinical practice with emergent bilingual learners at intermediate and advanced stages of proficiency should incorporate robust vocabulary instruction for emergent bilinguals from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Clinicians should focus on high-utility academic words, and they should teach morphological problem-solving skills for generative word learning. Clinicians should leverage emergent bilingual learners’ home language resources for developing morphological problem-solving skill.

Supplemental Material S1. This figure illustrates how students are guided to make connections between high-frequency words in Spanish or other Latinate languages to support learning of Latin roots.

Supplemental Material S2. This figure illustrates how students are taught to take a problem-solving stance using Latin roots to infer meanings unfamiliar words. In addition to the target academic word, students use the target root meaning to analyze the meaning of a new academic word, creating semantic connections and expanding vocabulary growth.

Supplemental Material S3. This figure illustrates how students are taught use target root meanings to analyze meanings of additional root-related words, further expanding semantic connections and promoting vocabulary growth.

Supplemental Material S4. This figure illustrates how students are taught use target root meanings to analyze meanings of additional root-related words.

Supplemental Material S5. This figure illustrates how students are taught use target root meanings to analyze meanings of additional root-related words.

Supplemental Material S6. This figure presents an example of a review activity to provide an opportunity for active processing of previously taught target words from several instructional cycles.

Crosson, A. C., McKeown, M. G., Robbins, K. P., & Brown, K. J. (2019). Key elements of robust vocabulary instruction for emergency bilingual adolescents. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 50, 493–505. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_LSHSS-VOIA-18-0127

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Forum: Vocabulary Across the School Grades.