The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Language Arts textbooks for vocabulary instruction in primary classrooms: why are they good, but not enough?

Anne-Marie Dionne, Faculty of Education University of Ottawa (Canada)


Despite the growing interest for vocabulary instruction in primary education, very few studies have focused on the pedagogical content put forward in Language Arts textbooks in regard to lexical notions. Yet, it has been shown that many elementary school teachers rely heavily on those textbooks to offer some vocabulary instruction to their pupils [1,2]. As such, an examination of these materials could give an overview of the strategies put into practice regarding vocabulary instruction in primary classrooms. The purpose of the present study was to conduct an in-depth analysis of a Language Arts textbooks collection that is used extensively in French primary classrooms in the province of Ontario in Canada, from grade 1 to grade 3. We wanted to know to what extent the pedagogical strategies found in such commercially prepared material are aligned with current scientific knowledge on vocabulary instruction [3,4,5]. A content analysis was conducted on all the teachers’ guides, as well as on students’ manuals and activity books. We sought to identify each and every element relating to vocabulary instruction in those documents. In doing so, we systematically analyzed those components. We concluded that in this particular collection of textbooks, vocabulary instruction is infused in most lessons, which is worthwhile. Nonetheless, many lexical activities that are suggested are incongruent with what is recognized as being beneficial in the area of vocabulary instruction. During our presentation, we will discuss the impact that such collection could have on the vocabulary development of students, and also on the teaching practices that are taking place in primary classrooms.

Keywords: Vocabulary instruction -- Primary classrooms -- Teaching material -- Teaching practices


[1] Neuman, S. B. and Dwyer, J. (2009). Missing in action: vocabulary instruction in pre-k. The Reading Teacher, 62 (5), 384-392.

[2] Anctil, D. (2019). Chronique au fil des mots – Comment enseigne-t-on le lexique dans les classes du primaire? Vivre le primaire. Printemps, 14-17.

[3] Beck, I., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2013). Bringing Words to Life. Robust Vocabulary Instruction (2nd ed.). New York : The Guilford Press.

[4] Cèbe, S. et Goigoux, R. (2015). Vocabulaire et compréhension de textes : si nous ne laissions à l’élève que la charge qui lui revient? Spirale – Revue de recherches en éducation, 55, 119-136.

[5] Cellier, M. (2015). Guide pour enseigner le vocabulaire à l’école élémentaire. Paris : Retz. 2015.


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