Literacy Research Proposal

The Turn and Talk Strategy on Early Childhood Vocabulary

Does the turn and talk strategy during early childhood read-alouds have an impact on receptive and expressive vocabularies?


This research will use the turn and talk strategy during early childhood read-aloud time. Will this strategy of talking about vocabulary words increase preschool children's receptive and expressive vocabulary? Vocabulary instruction is important for building reading proficiency. Illinois State Standard for Early Childhood 1.E states students will "use increasingly complex phrases, sentences, and vocabulary." Vocabulary instruction in early childhood is also important in preparing students for the CCSS they will have to meet in kindergarten.


  • Quasi experimental design
  • 2 early childhood classes in a suburban private preschool
  • 40 students between the ages of 3 and 4
  • 95% white and 5% other races (Hispanic, Asian, African-American)
  • 65% boys and 35% girls
  • One class attends school 3 days per week and one class attends school 2 days per week
  • Several students have been identified by local school districts to receive speech and language services.

Literature Review

  • Illinois State Standard for Early Childhood Education state that preschool children "will use increasingly complex, phrases, sentences, and vocabulary." Specifically they will "use new words acquired through conversations and book-sharing experiences."
  • Read-alouds are the most recommended activity for encouraging language and literacy. (Beck & McKeown, 2001).
  • Effective read-alouds require fluent oral models. (Fisher et al, 2004)
  • Dialogic reading emphasizes child discussion. (Whitehurst et al, 1994)
  • Analytic book discussion strongly relate to long-term vocabulary development. (Dickinson & Smith, 1994).
  • Mulitple opportunities to interact with new vocabulary words relate to increased vocabulary knowledge. (Wasik & Bond, 2001).
  • Even very young children can add sophisticated words to their vocabulary and may provide a foundation for vocabulary growth. (Beck & McKeown, 2007).


This research is a quasi-experimental design and will be conducted over a 12 week period in the middle of the school year. There are two classes in the experiment. One class has instruction three days per week. This class will be the comparison class so that the additional instruction time is not a factor. The second class has instruction two days per week and they will receive the turn and talk strategy during read aloud time. Specifically they will be asked to turn and talk to their neighbor about new vocabulary words that the teacher has identified as important from the read-aloud book. The comparison class will only receive the normal vocabulary instruction without the turn and talk strategy.

Data Collection

The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-IV) and the Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT-2)will be administered at the beginning of the research project as a pre-test measure as well as at the end of the project as a post-test measure. A third and fourth pre-test/post-test measure will be administered based on the specific vocabulary words that were selected for instruction. These tests will be researcher created and the same format at the PPVT-IV and the EVT-2. The third measure will be for the specific vocabulary looking at receptive knowledge and the fourth measure will be for specific vocabulary looking at expressive knowledge. Teacher observations of vocabulary use will also tallied on wall charts.

Data Analysis

The researcher will be examine the pre-tests and post-tests for the mean number of words correct on the PPVT-IV, the EVT-2 and the vocabulary specific tests. The mean number of words gained will be used an indicator of strategy performance. The teacher observations will be examined to identify which words were used more frequently by students and which words were seldom used.


After the research is complete, I would anticipate that students who received the turn and talk strategy as part of their vocabulary instruction would have higher scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test -IV, the Expressive Vocabulary Test -2, and the specific vocabulary measures for both receptive and expressive vocabulary. If this is the case, I would incorporate this strategy into both of my classes as well as suggesting that my director look at the research to consider asking the other teachers in the building to use this strategy. If the research results have not shown an increase in vocabulary, I would then look for other opportunities to increase vocabulary for early childhood students.