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How do reading and listening to stories facilitate vocabulary acquisition?

Valentini, A. (2017) How do reading and listening to stories facilitate vocabulary acquisition? PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Reading and listening to stories foster vocabulary development (Elley, 1989; Nagy, Anderson, & Herman, 1987; Wilkinson & Houston-Price, 2013). Studies of single word learning in literate children suggest that new words are more likely to be learnt when both their oral and written forms are provided, compared to when only one form is given (Ricketts, Bishop, & Nation, 2009). This thesis explores children’s learning of phonological, orthographic and semantic information about words encountered in a story context, comparing performance in different story presentation modalities. Specifically, Year 4 children were exposed to new words embedded within stories in three possible conditions: listening (Studies 1 & 2), reading (Studies 2 & 3), and simultaneous listening and reading (‘combined condition’ - Studies 1, 2 & 3). Children learnt the orthographic forms of the words only when exposed to them (reading & combined conditions), but showed reliable semantic and phonological learning in all conditions. Children showed similar phonological learning in all conditions, demonstrating that phonology is automatically generated from orthography. In contrast, some measures revealed better semantic learning in the combined condition, showing both phonological and orthographic facilitation effects. In the third study we explored the nature of the advantage of the combined condition for semantic learning, examining children’s eye-movements to compare their allocation of attention to the text in the combined and the reading conditions. In the combined condition children spent less time reading the new words, as well as learning more new word meanings, compared to the reading condition. This suggests that presenting words in two modalities simultaneously confers a learning advantage by freeing attentional resources. In conclusion, Year 4 children learn word meanings better when able to listen to stories while reading them. The advantage of the dual modality of presentation may partly be due to this condition freeing attentional resources.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Houston-Price, C., Ricketts, J. and Pye, R.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:78131

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