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First CLLEAR seminar of semester: ‘Inspiring teachers: Multi-Word vocabulary and literacy development in children with English as an Additional Language’

The first CLLEAR seminar of the semester will be taking place on Wednesday 5th February 2014 from 5.00-6.30pm in Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus, at the University of Southampton. The session is entitled, ‘Inspiring teachers: Multi-Word vocabulary and literacy development in children with English as an Additional Language’ and will be presented by Dr Victoria Murphy from the University of Oxford. All welcome!

Below is the abstract of the talk:

Children with English as an Additional Language (EAL) represent a growing proportion of the primary school population in the UK. While there is great diversity within the EAL population with respect to linguistic and academic outcomes, children with EAL tend to lag behind native-speaking peers across the primary curriculum. One of the candidate explanations for this achievement gap is under-developed literacy skills in EAL pupils as some researchers have demonstrated that students with EAL are as much as two years behind NS peers on measures of reading comprehension. One variable consistently identified as a powerful contributor to literacy development is vocabulary knowledge, and children with EAL have been identified to have lower scores on standardized vocabulary assessments relative to NS peers. Thus far, however, research has not adequately captured the complexity of vocabulary knowledge, predominantly focusing on measures of so-called ‘breadth’ through standardized assessments. Vocabulary knowledge is complex and componential and a range of different vocabulary measures should ideally be used with children with EAL to more precisely identify the range and extent of their lexical knowledge, and how these different lexical features contribute to literacy skill. To that end, the research presented in this paper will focus on research examining more figurative vocabulary knowledge in primary school children with EAL, examining collocations (multiword phrases) and idioms in particular and the relative contribution this type of word knowledge makes to literacy development. This work will be discussed in the context of providing more adequate educational support for the growing number of minority language learners in British schools.

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