What is semantic diversity, and how might it support children’s reading?

We’ve been thinking a lot about semantic diversity lately and how it might relate to children’s reading development. We invited our latest recruit to the research team, Nicky Dawson, to summarise our recent paper and think about the implications of its findings. Over to Nicky…

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Who are poor comprehenders?

There’s been much discussion recently regarding the “language gap” and the “word gap” — the recognition that there are huge variations in levels of children’s language ability by the time they start school.  Some of our research has investigated how children’s spoken language sets the foundation for literacy development. It is clear that children with low levels of spoken language are at risk for reading failure, particularly with it comes to reading comprehension.

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Word Detective: A guide for parents

Word Detective is our nationwide citizen science project for children. Lots of children have already taken part in our quiz, as these photos show. With your help, we hope many more children will take part. We need 1000s of Word Detectives to help us answer important questions about how children learn to read. Follow our how to guide and you can complete the quiz in 10 easy steps. And there are prizes to be won!

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Word Detective: A guide for the classroom

Word Detective is our nationwide citizen science project. Many children have already participated, earning their Word Detective certificate. With your help, we hope many more children will take part. We need 1000s of Word Detectives to help us answer important questions about how children learn to read. You can complete the quiz with your class in 10 easy steps, by following our how to guide. And there are prizes to be won!

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Book Language

The picture shows our research group enjoying some shared reading time at Oxford’s Story Museum.

We know that shared reading matters. Study after study shows that children vary enormously in the amount of shared reading they experience in the pre-school years. In turn, this variation is associated with language and literacy development once they get to school. But why is shared reading so important?

 

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Reading comprehension and vocabulary: what’s the connection?

Primed by an email conversation about the connections between vocabulary and reading comprehension, I’ve dug out a chapter I wrote nearly 10 years ago on the very topic.  If I was writing it now, one thing I’d want to include is discussion of vocabulary instruction and its role in improving reading comprehension.  Although there is more to reading comprehension than vocabulary, there is good evidence that gains in vocabulary knowledge are associated with gains in reading comprehension (e.g., Clarke et al., 2010). Equally though, successful reading itself provides the essential substrate for learning new vocabulary – hence the rich and complex interactions between vocabulary and reading comprehension.

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And the children’s word of 2017 is…

Earlier this year, a record breaking 131,798 children from across the country submitted a story to the annual BBC Radio 2 500 Words writing competition. All this hard work and creative effort produced a massive 55 million words, making over 284 million words in total since the competition began in 2012. Every story is special, and every story is read. You can read and listen to the shortlisted stories over on the BBC Radio 2 500 Words homepage, and tune in to the results show on Friday 16th June, live from the Tower of London. But our question for today is what is the children’s word of the year? Which word fired the children’s imaginations and captured the spirit of this year’s stories? Our friends in the Children’s Dictionaries Department at Oxford University Press have found out the answer… and….

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