Helping Students Learn Vocabulary Words (Linnea C. Ehri, City University of New York)

May 11, 2010

10:00 a.m.
Presented by:Linnea C. Ehri, Distinguished Professor, City University of New York Graduate Center
Room 150 JRP
KU Campus


Helping Students Learn Vocabulary Words: The Contribution of Spelling
Linnea C. Ehri, Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Center
10 a.m. May 11, 2010
Room 150 JRP

Vocabulary learning is central to reading ability and academic achievement. Vocabulary researchers and educators have viewed its essence as a process of associating the pronunciations and meanings of words in memory, and they have paid little attention to the contribution of spelling. Dr. Ehri will review theory and evidence showing that once children become literate, they retain the spellings of words bonded to their pronunciations and meanings in memory when they learn to read words. She will present two studies that address whether exposing second- and fifth-graders to the spellings of vocabulary words enhances their memory for pronunciations and meanings of the words and whether those with better spelling ability benefit more. Also, she will mention a study examining whether having students read new vocabulary words aloud helps them learn the words better than reading the words silently. Implications for enhancing vocabulary learning and instruction will be explained.


Linnea Ehri received her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a professor at the University of California, Davis, for many years before moving to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York as a distinguished professor. She holds appointments in the Educational Psychology and the Speech Language and Hearing Sciences programs. She has received research awards from the American Educational Research Association, the International Reading Association, the National Reading Conference, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. She has held elective offices in AERA, NRC, and SSSR. She is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame. Dr. Ehri served on the National Reading Panel, which was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to report on research-based methods of teaching reading effectively to elementary students. She has received federal research grants from NICHD and the Office of Education. Her research and teaching are focused on the cognitive and linguistic processes involved in learning to read and spell words, to read and comprehend text, early precursors of success, sources of difficulty in acquiring these processes, and the forms of instruction that facilitate learning. She has written more than 120 scholarly publications on language learning and literacy.