In order to gain a better idea of what children would do when the came across challenging vocabulary in texts I used the ARBs task The lion and the Monkeys. This task uses the text: The Lion and the Monkeys, School Journal, Part 1, No 1, Learning Media, 1987.
This task is at Level 2 of the curriculum and has a focus on vocabulary: The words in the text include: claws, finger nails, shiny, long, teeth, piano keys, clean, white, strong jaws, cheeks, yellow, soft, sharp ears, tufts, stroked, fast leg, silly, paws, furry, cuddly, cruel, roar, purr, warming gentle, cage.
Question: What does the reading tell me about learner vocabulary and reading ability?
During reading children often stopped at these topic specific words. Some had trouble decoding them which I expected give this text was slightly above their instructional level. Others were unsure of the meaning. When discussing the text with the children they noticed that their were many words they didn't know what they meant.
What does this tell me?
- One, decoding and vocabulary understanding are not separate for these learners.
- Children need vocabulary not just for topic specific no fiction texts but across fiction texts also.
- They need strategies
to figure out what new vocabulary means.