University of Pittsburgh 
School Of Education

© University of Pittsburgh 2013. Home | Terms and Conditions

Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Text Talk - Topic 59

What is it?

A program in which teachers use trade books to promote word knowledge and meaning construction with kindergarten and first grade students.  The main focus of this program is to select “sophisticated words” from the trade books.  The term “sophisticated words” refers to words that are used by mature speakers and are found in written language.  These words (i.e. tier -2 words) are thought to be especially important for at risk learners who would be less likely to learn them independently.  In the text talk program, word instruction takes place after a storybook reading so that the teacher can capitalize on the story by teaching the words in a familiar context.  The strategy consists of five instructional steps for teaching a new word.  First the teacher defines the word and provides examples of how the word can be used in a sentence. Next she/he asks the children to say the word out loud (emphasis on the phonological pronunciation of the word).  The teacher and children discuss how the word can be used in new situations (different from the story).  Next, the teacher conducts a discrimination task in which she/he asks the students to decide what is and is not a correct example of the target word.  Finally, the children have the opportunity to share their own examples of ideas pertaining to the target word.  

Why is it important?

Text Talk is a program aimed at increasing word knowledge for children in kindergarten and first-grade.  Studies revealed that children who received direct, explicit, and extended word instruction showed greater gains in target word knowledge than children who did not receive this instruction.  This strategy is important because it is geared towards enriching vocabulary and word knowledge for children, particularly those at risk.  While this intervention has been shown to be effective with kindergarten and first-grade students, the instructional steps can be adapted to suit various age ranges (i.e. elementary, middle and/or secondary) and levels of functioning.


Beck, I.L., & McKeown, M.G. (2007).  Increasing young low-incidence children’s oral vocabulary

repertoires through rich and focused instruction.  The Elementary School Journal, 107, 251


Curtis, M.E. (1987).  Vocabulary testing and vocabulary instruction.  In M.G McKeown & M.E. Curtis

(Eds.), The nature of vocabulary acquisition.  Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Table of Contents

Next Topic

Previous Topic