How Much Do You Know About Early Oral Language Development?

The following was written by Susan B. Neuman and Esther Quintero. Neuman is Professor of Early Childhood & Literacy Education, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development at New York University.

The topic of oral vocabulary instruction is affected by common myths, which have sometimes gotten in the way of promoting high quality teaching early on. While these myths often contain partial truths, recent evidence has called into question many of these notions.

We've prepared this short quiz  for you -- take it and find out how much you know about this important issue. Read through the following statements and decide if they are myths that have been perpetuated about oral vocabulary development or if they are facts (or key principles) about the characteristics of high quality vocabulary instruction. Download Dispelling Myths and Reinforcing Facts About Early Oral Language Development and Instruction if you prefer to go straight to the answers.

Update: A total of 157 readers have taken the quiz so far, below are the the results (12/18/2013).


If you still want to take the quiz, please do so. Remember that "Your Name" below can be left blank.

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Susan and Esther, the framing and content of the questions in this quiz make it sound like a companion to Englemann's Direct Instruction techniques for language development in underprivileged children. Your comment?


Hardly. Our program couldn't be further from it. We teach words in the context of shared book reading of meaningful topics and engage children in thinking deeply about content.

You might want to check out my book, 'All About Words' (Teachers College Press):


a problematic quiz.

For example, the very first question does not say what what the answer presumes it says. In fact, children WILL build their vocabularies without that kind of intentionality on the part of teachers. The answer addresses the the question of whether children will build their vocabularies *sufficiently*.

These simplistic questions -- as so often is the case with fact/myth quizzes -- have assumed values and intentions that are not stated explicitly.

That's too bad, because this is a foundational issue in k12 education, and it should not be necessary to resort to such tricks.