10 STRATEGIES that WORK to support
young children's language development
Sarah E. Dennis, Ph.D.
1. Asking open-ended questions during play (and ALL times of day)
Asking open-ended questions during Read Alouds (before/during/after)
Acting out words/inviting children to act out words
4. Asking children to guess a word's meaning, or explaining a word
Inviting children to "turn-n-talk" to their friends about a word's meaning
Showing WRITTEN words before story
10. Rereading books multiple times (but doing different things each time)
(11. Using TIER 2 words ALL the time!
(12. Working with parents to help them learn about supporting their child's
(13. Assessing your own practice, setting goals, working towards constant
Instructions: Read this vignette and score this classroom on ELLCO Item 9. Please
prepare to discuss your rating with examples from the vignette (e.g., rationale for
Vignette for ELLCO Item 9: Opportunities for Extended Conversations
The children are eating breakfast at three small tables in the classroom. The assistant
teacher, Ms. Moore, is sitting with one table engaging in conversation about a recent trip to the
zoo ("What was your favorite animal?" "If you could be any animal, which animal would you be?
Why?"). She's also sharing her observations/likes (e.g., "I love watching the tiger prowl back and
forth across the front of his cage. I think his stripes are so beautiful, like zebra's stripes. I love both
their stripes. Oh look, Joshua is wearing stripes today. Is anyone else wearing stripes?"). The
classroom teacher, Ms. Williams, turns off the lights and says, "Time to clean up. Wash your
hands, and take your seat on the rug for Circle time."
10 minutes later, after dozens of repeated commands at children, Ms. Williams reviews the