Effective Vocabulary Instruction Using the Four Domains of Language

Cheri A. Woelfl


The purpose of this action research study was to determine whether using the four domains of language (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) during vocabulary instruction in reading and math would impact students’ vocabulary knowledge. The sample population consisted of high school students who were receiving Title I services in both reading and math. In total, 14 African-American students participated. These 14 participants were taught weekly target words in both reading and math during an eight-week period. The study was divided into a four-week nonintervention period and a four-week intervention period. During the nonintervention period, students utilized listening and speaking to discuss each word in different contexts. During the intervention period, the same students utilized reading and writing, as well as listening and speaking, to interact with each word in multiple contexts. Additionally, throughout the nonintervention and intervention, students self-assessed their knowledge of the terms via the Vocabulary Knowledge Rating Chart. Data comparing the nonintervention and the intervention pre- and posttest vocabulary scores revealed that students made significant gains in their ability to define the target words, compose sentences utilizing the words in context, and complete a cloze activity after receiving the intervention. Likewise, students overall increased their self-rating of the terms via the Vocabulary Knowledge Rating Chart, meaning students believed they could better define and use the terms after receiving the intervention. Limitations of the study included a small sample population (14 students) over a short duration (eight weeks). As a result of this study, the following recommendations for effective vocabulary instruction were made for classroom teachers: provide explicit instruction in metacognition, focus on a limited number of words in multiple contexts, and incorporate the four domains of language.