Background & Research

Reading with Vocabulary Instruction

Interventions that combine reading instruction with phonological training are generally effective for children with reading difficulties However, a small minority of children respond poorly to RI. The REVI study explored the characteristics of children who showed a poor response to The Reading Intervention programme and aimed to improve their literacy and their language skills with a new theoretically motivated intervention.  The ‘poor responders’ were described as children with severe and persistent reading difficulties.

The project was led by Dr Fiona Duff and focused on children who had received ten weeks of RI in 2004. Seven schools in North Yorkshire were involved. Training was provided and a nine week programme combining vocabulary work with phonological training and reading opportunities (very similar to the RI approach) was delivered. Before the intervention began the children showed almost no progress over six months of regular classroom education, on measures of oral language and literacy.  

The results of the Intervention were positive and demonstrated that this group of children benefitted from the language component of the intervention. Over the intervention period improvements were made on measures of reading, phoneme segmentation and spoken language skills, which were maintained six months later. Although the intervention was effective, these children remained outside the average range in reading and needed ongoing support. The study indicates that children with broad language difficulties (vocabulary and grammar) need these difficulties addressing and REVI was more effective for these children than RI.    

Duff, F. J., Fieldsend, E., Bowyer-Crane, C., Hulme, C., Smith, G., Gibbs, S., & Snowling, M. J. (2008). Reading with vocabulary intervention: Evaluation of an instruction for children with poor response to reading intervention. Journal of Research in Reading , 31, 319-336.  

Reading and Language Intervention for Children with Down Syndrome (REVI plus)

The research (a randomised controlled trial) focused on an intervention combining both reading and language for children with Down syndrome. The reading and language program was delivered daily by trained teaching assistants in 40 minutes sessions over 20 weeks. The reading elements of the intervention mirrored the Reading Intervention approach whilst the language elements of the intervention focused on vocabulary and accurate expressive language.  57 children with Down syndrome were recruited from primary schools in the United Kingdom.  The sample was 49 % male and aged between 5 and 10 years.  

 At 20 weeks, those in the intervention group had significantly higher scores than those in the control group on single-word knowledge (effect size: 0.23), letter-sound knowledge (effect size: 0.42), phoneme blending (effect size: 0.54), and taught expressive vocabulary (effect size: 0.47).  No other measured outcomes showed significant differences between the two groups. At the start of the study only 60% of the children were able to score on a standardized reading test and this increased to 90% of the children by the end of the intervention.  

Burgoyne, K., Duff, F. J., Clarke, P. J., Buckley, S., Snowling, M. J., & Hulme, C. (2012). Efficacy of reading and language intervention for children with Down syndrome: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 53(10) 1044-1053