Vocabulary use across genres: Implications for students with complex communication needs

Sally A. Clendon, Janet M. Sturm, Kathleen S. Cali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study examined the vocabulary words and multiword sequences used by 124 typically developing kindergarten and 1st-grade students when they wrote about self-selected topics. The study extends previous research by examining the vocabulary used in different genres. Method: A total of 457 writing samples were analyzed. The samples were classified according to 9 genres and were analyzed using the Child Language Analysis (MacWhinney, 2006) software program. Results: The authors found that 140 words represented 70% of the vocabulary produced. The most common genre types were narrative recounts and opinions. The patterns of frequency for words and multiword sequences varied across genres. The degree of variation was greater for particular vocabulary words. For instance, the word going was used predominantly in 1 genre. In contrast, the word mom was used in every genre except 3. The structure words tended to be used with high frequency across genres. Conclusion: The word lists generated can be used to inform vocabulary selection, organization, and instruction for students with complex communication needs who are beginning writers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-72
Number of pages12
JournalLanguage, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Complex communication needs
  • Vocabulary
  • Writing


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