Program

Jun 04, 2013

OVERVIEW

Lexicon Pirate is a five-week program designed to improve lexical learning among four- year-old preschool children with lexical difficulties. The program focuses on a hand puppet pirate’s  treasure hunt for new words. An experimental evaluation showed that children who took part in the program were able to correctly name more of the trained words from the intervention than control group children who did not receive the treatment.  At a 12-month follow-up, both the children in the experimental group and the control group improved their expressive vocabulary, with the experimental group’s mean score significantly higher than the control group’s mean score.  However, the difference in gains between the two groups was not statistically significant.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target Population: Four year-old preschool children with lexical difficulties

Lexicon Pirate is a five-week program designed to improve vocabulary.  The program, which is delivered by trained speech therapists, consists of thirteen individual sessions of 30 minutes each (three sessions per week) that take place in a separate room within the child’s school.  The program focuses on a hand puppet pirate’s  treasure hunt for new words. During the sessions, children are taught semantic and lexical learning strategies, as well as to teach themselves. For example, children are taught to ask for meanings of objects they did not know (semantic strategy) and to elaborate on meanings of words (lexical strategy).

Parents are also involved in the program, with consultations after the sixth session and during the last session. Parents are instructed on how to help their children to continue learning at home.

EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAM

Motsch, H., & Ulrich, T. (2012). Effects of the strategy therapy ‘lexicon pirate’ on lexical deficits in preschool age: A randomized controlled trial.  Child Language Teaching and Therapy 28(2), 159-175.

Evaluated Population: Fifty-four four-year-old preschoolers from 43 day-care-centers in Cologne, Germany with diagnosed lexical deficits who met the minimal linguistic qualification of being able to understand and ask “wh-questions”  (such as what and who) were included in the study.

Approach:  These 54 children were randomized into either a control or experimental group.  The control group received linguistic support in preschool from their teacher one or two times per week. The experimental group received these services as well as the Lexicon Pirate program.

The children were evaluated on their knowledge of 39 of the intervention words as well as  expressive vocabulary at the time of randomization, immediately after the five-week intervention, six months after the intervention, and one year after the intervention.

At the time of randomization, the control and experimental groups were generally comparable, except that the mean score on verb comprehension was significantly lower for the control group than the experimental group.

Results:

Intervention Words

After the intervention, children in the experimental group were able to correctly name more of the intervention items (42 percent compared with 17 percent for the control group).  This significant difference remained through the 12-month follow-u; however the control group children showed an increase in performance.

Expressive Vocabulary

Both the children in the experimental group and the control group improved their expressive vocabulary between the pre-test and the 12-month follow-up. At the 12-month follow-up, the experimental group’s mean score was significantly higher than the control group’s mean score.  However, the difference in gains between the two groups did not differ significantly. Results were similar for students with  quantitative (vocabulary) and qualitative (word finding) deficits.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Motsch, H., & Ulrich, T. (2012). Effects of the strategy therapy ‘lexicon pirate’ on lexical deficits in preschool age: A randomized controlled trial.  Child Language Teaching and Therapy 28(2), 159-175.

KEYWORDS:  Children (3-11), Preschool, Males and Females (Co-ed), High-Risk, Urban, School-based, Tutoring, Parent or Family Component, Early Childhood Education, Skills Training, Other Education

Program information last updated on May 22, 2013.