Dialogic reading supports diverse preschool classrooms and teachers

Published on Tuesday, April 09, 2013

All children's word knowledge increased and teachers carried dialogic reading practices into the following school year.

A recent study shows that training preschool staff in dialogic reading strategies increased their students’ vocabulary development, whether the children were English-only speakers, Spanish-dominant speakers, or bilingual.  In addition, the training was successful for teachers with different levels of experience and training.

The staff training included in-service workshops, consultations, and reflections within community of practice meetings. The study involved six teachers with different education and experience levels, and 72 children who spoke only English, primarily Spanish, or both languages. Three different vocabulary and language tests were given to the students to assess vocabulary and other language gains.

All children’s word knowledge increased.  English-only speakers learned more words than the bilingual or the Spanish dominant children.  Whether the books were read in English or in Spanish did not impact student achievement; nor did their teachers’ background.

This study is important for several reasons. First, it shows that children with diverse early language characteristics can all benefit from dialogic reading. Second, it shows that experienced teachers, as well as new teachers can benefit from dialogic reading training. Finally, the study documented that dialogic reading is an evidence-based practice with staying power.  Trained staff continued to use the dialogic reading strategies the rest of the school year and with new students the following year.   

Language is the Key videos and handouts demonstrate the CAR dialogic reading strategies for teacher and parent training. Preview Talking and Books, from the Language is the Key program to see an easy, effective staff training video for dialogic reading. You can order Language is the Key here.

This research was conducted through a unique research to practice partnership between Lynn Cohen and her colleagues at Long Island University and La Francis Hardiman Elementary School in Wyandanch, New York.


Cohen, L.E., Kramer-Vida, L., & Frye, N. (2012). Using dialogic reading as professional development to improve students’ English and Spanish vocabulary.  NHSA Dialog, 15(1), 59-80.