Een paar dagen geleden verscheen de nieuwe KBS-publicatie: Kleine kinderen, grote kansen. Hoe kleuterleraars
leren omgaan met armoede en ongelijkheid.
Deze studie werd uitgevoerd door het Steunpunt Diversiteit en Leren
(univ. Gent) onder de supervisie van prof. Piet Van Avermaet. Ook
het CEGO (Centrum Ervaringsgericht onderwijs) van prof. Ferre Laevers werkte hieraan
Deze publicatie laat o.i. te wensen over. We illustreren dit
even. Eén van de grootste problemen van achterstandskleuters is precies het
feit dat ze over een veel beperktere woordenschat en taalvaardigheid beschikken
en dat ze ook van huis uit niet in contact komen met meer complexe woorden die
voor het latere schoolse leren heel belangrijk zijn. Tot onze ergernis vinden we in deze KBS-studie
geen aanwijzingen omtrent deze belangrijke thematiek, omtrent b.v. woordenschatonderwijs en NT2-onderwijs. Om te illustreren wat zoal ontbreekt, verwijzen
we in de bijlage even naar publicaties omtrent woordenschatontwikkeling in het
kleuteronderwijs van S. Neuman & Esther Quitero. Het gaat meer bepaalde om
een hoofdstuk uit hun boek All about words (zie internet).
Het verwondert ons niet dat medewerkers van de vroegere GOK-Steunpunten
Diversiteit en Leren en CEGO de effectieve en doorgedreven achterstandsdidactiek
voor taal en woordenschat links laten liggen in de KBS-publicatie. Ze stellen zelfs op pag. 140 dat er nu al te
veel aandacht besteed wordt aan de ontwikkeling van taalcompetenties. Als GOK-steunpunten kwamen het Steunpunt Diversiteit en leren, CEGO en het Steunpunt NT2-Leuven zelfs tot de conclusie dat intensief en expliciet
NT2-onderwijs niet nodig was. Ze
verwachtten alle heil verwachtten van de toevallige taalinteractie met
de andere kleuters en van informeel leren en veel spel. De supervisie van het KBS-project was
overigens toevertrouwd aan prof. Piet van Avermaet, een verstokte
Dispelling Myths and
Reinforcing Facts About Early Oral Language Development & Instruction Susan
B. Neuman and Esther Quintero
One of the better-documented facts in education is that
learning gaps can emerge very early and that children who are not given the
opportunity of a good start usually do not thrive later on. A good oral
language foundation, however, can level the learning field for all children.
Language is the key to all subsequent learning; it is the door to the world of
knowledge and ideas for young children.
But what does good oral language instruction look like? The
following short statements represent myths that have been perpetuated about
oral language development and facts (or key principles) that characterize high
quality vocabulary instruction.
1. Teachers have to
be intentional about choosing words to teach in order for children to build
FACT: So little time, so many words
Teachers must carefully select the words they plan to teach.
Its best to focus on high-utility but sophisticated words such as
"fortunate" instead of "lucky." Also, teachers must
consider content-related words very early on; such words will serve as anchors
for developing knowledge in key subject areas. For instance, science vocabulary
words such as compare, contrast, observe, and predict; these are fundamental
inquiry words used across subject areas. Introducing students to these words
helps them to build knowledge that is essential for learning systematically
2. There is a
vocabulary explosion period in a child's language development.
MYTH: Word learning is cumulative.
Word learning is perceived to start rather slowly, then at
about 16 months or when a child learns about 50 words, all of a sudden, there seems
to be a vocabulary explosion or word spurt a time when children
dramatically increase their ability to acquire new words. Recent evidence,
however, does not support this view.
By contrast, it suggests that children accumulate words at a
constant rate and that it is the written and verbal use of these words that accelerates.
Thus, the course of word learning has little to do with explosions,bursts, or
spurts; word learning is constant and cumulative. This means that the optimal
time for oral vocabulary instruction and development is not limited to the
toddler years; it occurs before, during and after those years.
3. Reading storybooks
is sufficient for oral vocabulary development.
MYTH: Exposure to words through book reading may not be
potent enough. Reading books to children is a powerful strategy for vocabulary
development, but recent studies have begun to question whether the technique is
substantial enough to boost all childrens language development. Several
meta-analyses have reported only small to moderate effects of book reading on
vocabulary growth, which suggests that exposure to words through storybooks may
not be potent enough, particularly for at-risk students. This means that
teachers will need to augment read-aloud experiences with more intentional
strategies that require children to process words at deeper levels of
4. Teachable moments
or informal opportunities to engage children in word learning are
sufficient for explaining word meanings.
MYTH: Teachers need to be much more strategic about
Most teachers try to consciously engage children in active
experiences that involve lots of conversation throughout the day. Teachable
moments are informal opportunities to engage children in word learning, similar
to the types of language exchanges that occur between parents and children. But
repetition is key here and teachers, unlike parents, dont always have this
luxury. Teachers need to adopt a much more strategic approach to vocabulary
instruction. Children need planned, sequenced, and systematic vocabulary
instruction. This means selecting words, concepts, and ideas that matter most
right from the very beginning and focusing on those throughout the early years.
5. The vocabulary
scope and sequence in core reading programs generally have a good selection of
words for oral vocabulary instruction.
MYTH: Many programs have a haphazard approach to vocabulary
Neuman and colleagues examined the prevalence of oral
vocabulary instruction in core reading programs at the pre-K level, finding a
dearth of instructional guidance for teachers, despite some mentioning of
words. The elementary grades are much different; although there is greater attention
to words, there is a tremendous disparity across curricula. Until appropriate
materials are developed and made available consistently, teachers will have to
rely on research-based principles to ensure that students receive the oral
language instruction they need.
6. Children need both
explicit and implicit instruction to learn the meaning of words.
FACT: Children who are given friendly definitions of words
are more likely to remember them.
Prior to the beginning of a story, for example, a teacher
might begin by introducing several words that are integral to the story. While
vocabulary gains are higher when words are identified explicitly, the largest
gains occur when teachers provide both explicit and implicit instruction. In
other words, when teachers make children aware of the meaning of the words and
engage them in using those words in a specific relevant context.
7. Children Are Word
MYTH: Word learning requires many exposures over an extended
period of time.
Children seem to pick up words so prodigiously and
effortlessly that, too often, word learning has been assumed to occur
naturally. But there is ample evidence to suggest that word learning is complex
and incremental. Think about childrens struggles to understand color words. It
is not until about age four that most children accurately apply individual
color terms. Typically, words such as red or yellow can appear early in
childrens vocabulary; but the application of these words may be haphazard and
interchangeable. Word learning requires many exposures over an extended period
of time. With each additional exposure, the word may become incrementally
closer to being fully learned.
8. Words should be
taught in categories, based around their inclusion in a larger category.
FACT: Children learn best when words are presented in
integrated contexts that make sense to them Words represent the tip of the
iceberg; underlying them is a set of emerging interconnections and concepts. It
is the rich network of concepts and facts accompanying these words that aids in
childrens comprehension. Helping children to learn new words in clusters that
represent knowledge networks has been shown to strongly support childrens
inferential reasoning and comprehension. Teaching words this way also aids in
retention thereby accelerating word learning. Children learn best when words
are presented in integrated contexts that make sense to them.
9. A child only needs
to hear a word three times in order to learn it.
MYTH: Children need many more encounters with new words than
Children are most likely to learn the words they hear the
most. Findings from a large number of correlational studies on language have
shown that frequency of exposure strongly predicts word learning. Although this
finding is often mentioned in the literature, what is new is that we may have
underestimated the amount of frequency required to learn words. Research by
Pinkham, Neuman and Lillard (2011) suggests that children need many more
encounters with new words than previously suspected. In addition to repetition
and rich explanation of newly encountered words, video and dynamic
visuals/sounds can help children learn by clarifying and adding more
10. Teachers should
have ongoing professional development in oral vocabulary instruction to ensure
that children make significant, accelerated gains.
FACT: Only skilled teachers can significantly improve large
gaps in childrens oral vocabulary development.
Childrens oral vocabulary development can be significantly
improved through intervention. However, research has shown that untrained
teachers and teachers with limited educational backgrounds are not as effective
in helping children make significant gains in vocabulary. This finding
highlights the importance of ongoing professional development for teachers and
aides who regularly work with children.
Note: If you are interested in learning more about the
research supporting these ideas, check out All
About Words (2013) by Susan B.
Neuman and Tanya S. (Een deel van het boek staat op het internet bij Google
The Albert Shanker Institut, 555 New Jersey Ave. N.W.Washington, DC 20001
Nog enkele basisprincipes
die in het boek All about words uitvoerig beschreven worden:
1.Kinderen (kleuters) hebben zowel expliciete als impliciete woordenschat
instructie nodig 2. Kies de woorden oordeelkundig, intentioneel 3.Woordbetekenis
aanleren via kennisnetwerken
4.Herhaald aanbod nodig om woordkennis te kunnen verwerven