Effects of explicit L2 vocabulary instruction on developing kindergarten children’s target and general vocabulary and phonological awareness

  • Susanna Siu-sze Yeung
  • Mei-lee Ng
  • Shen Qiao
  • Art TsangEmail author


The introduction of second language (L2) education in kindergartens is ubiquitous in many places globally; nevertheless, research in these settings is scarce compared with that on older learners. L2 vocabulary development is especially germane to these very young learners, rendering this a research-worthy topic. The present study examined the effects of researcher-designed explicit vocabulary instruction compared with implicit instruction on English-as-a-second-language participants’ (N = 157) gains in not only the target vocabulary items, but also general vocabulary as well as phonological awareness. Statistically significant differences were found in all vocabulary tasks and the phonemic awareness task with small to large effect sizes. These showed that, in addition to the target vocabulary, the participants receiving explicit vocabulary instruction also had greater gains in receptive and expressive general vocabulary and phonemic awareness. The article culminates in delineating the children’s differential achievements, followed by a brief discussion of the limitations and implications.


Explicit and implicit vocabulary instruction Intervention Phonological awareness Second language teaching and learning Very young learners 



We sincerely thank all participating children and teachers. The study was supported by the Quality Education Fund, HKSAR, given to the first author (QEF2012/0316).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanna Siu-sze Yeung
    • 1
  • Mei-lee Ng
    • 2
  • Shen Qiao
    • 3
  • Art Tsang
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Education University of Hong KongTai PoHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Early Childhood EducationThe Education University of Hong KongTai PoHong Kong
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongPok Fu LamHong Kong
  4. 4.Department of Curriculum and InstructionThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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