Nonverbal Supports in Word Learning: The Potential of Music and Sound in Fostering Children’s Vocabulary Knowledge
Word knowledge is crucial for the comprehension of oral language and written text. Consequently, children’s word knowledge at school entry affects later reading and academic success (Catts, Hogan, & Fey, 2003; Dickinson, Golinkoff, & Hirsh-Pasek, 2010; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Storch & Whitehurst, 2002). A number of studies seek to build children’s school-valued vocabulary knowledge, but do not explicitly explore the unique word-learning contributions of nonverbal supports. Furthermore, few studies examine the benefits of aural modalities, specifically music and sound, in fostering children’s word knowledge. This dissertation includes three papers that address the need to consider how sounds and music supply multimodal opportunities for word learning. The first paper lays out a theoretical framework and provides a review of the literature that analyses the ways in which nonverbal supports, such as pictures, gestures, and sounds, have been used in vocabulary interventions. The second paper investigates an instructional strategy known as a sound story in a first grade music classroom and seeks to address whether representing word meanings with nonverbal sound effects enhances children’s knowledge about words. The final paper examines the effectiveness of songs that are sung and rhythmically spoken in supporting children’s word knowledge in preschool classrooms.