Explicit teaching of the various word attributes led to an expanded vocabulary and better spelling.

Among the pedagogical practices likely to alleviate students’ difficulties with their mastery of written French, those favoring an explicit and in-depth teaching of vocabulary (i.e. the form, meaning and contexts of use of words) are a consensus in the field of educational research, unlike practices that favor the use of lists of words that students must memorize (the latter being the most common in Quebec schools).

In collaboration with teachers and based on identified theoretical and empirical studies, we devised and tested three experimental conditions on 243 students in 12 regular Grade 4 classes: 1) the memorization of word lists, 2) the explicit and multidimensional teaching of vocabulary, and 3) a control condition (no specific vocabulary instruction). Pre-testing and post-testing allowed us to verify the effects of these three conditions on student performance in reading, spelling and vocabulary tests.

The pedagogical practices resulting from this research will contribute to the integration and implementation of activities explicitly aimed at vocabulary development among students to improve their writing skills in a regular classroom context.The results obtained show that explicit teaching of the various word attributes led to an expanded vocabulary and better spelling among all students in the regular class, regardless of their characteristics, and that memorizing word lists was less effective in supporting spelling and vocabulary learning.

Main researcher

Rachel Berthiaume, Université de Montréal


Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: July 2018