What is vocabulary?
Vocabulary refers to the
words we must know to communicate effectively. In general, vocabulary
can be described as oral vocabulary (the words we use in speaking
or recognize when listening) or reading vocabulary (the words we recognize
or use in print).
Why is vocabulary important?
Vocabulary plays an important
part in learning to read. As beginning readers, children use the words
they have heard to make sense of the words they see in print. They
have a much more difficult time reading words that are not already
part of their oral vocabulary.
Vocabulary is also very important
to reading comprehension. Readers cannot understand what they are
reading without knowing what most of the words mean. As children learn
to read more advanced texts, they must learn the meaning of new words
that are not part of their oral vocabulary.
How do I teach vocabulary?
Here are some of the highlights
from the evidence-based research on vocabulary instruction:
- Children learn the meanings of most
words indirectly, through everyday experiences with oral and written
language. They do so by engaging daily in oral language, listening
to adults read to them, and reading extensively on their own.
- Although a great deal of vocabulary is
learned indirectly, some vocabulary should be taught directly. This
can be done through specific word instruction (teaching specific words,
extended instruction that promotes active engagement with words, and
repeated exposure to words in many contexts) and word learning strategies
(using dictionaries and other reference aids, using word parts, and
using context clues).
- Vocabulary instruction should focus on
important words (key words to help readers make sense of the text),
useful words (words they will encounter often), and difficult words
(words with multiple meanings, idiomatic words, etc.).
- Don't confuse vocabulary word instruction
with sight word instruction!
-National Institute for
Lesson for Firetalking (Patricia Polacco)
context clues to determine unknown word meanings
Write the vocabulary word in the
middle box and complete the graphic.
(created from an idea shared by Nancy in Fayettville, Georgia)
slide of Vocabulary Graphic
Strategies and Enrichment
How do I keep vocabulary words
Ideas for Keeping Vocabulary Words in Circulation
(email your additional ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll upload an updated compilation when we reach 25 ideas!)
How about adding a vocabulary
(Thanks to Lakewood's Third Grade Teachers for sharing
their bulletin board below.)
out these photographs of how Union Hill School keeps vocabulary words
(Thank you to Kelly Smith, Union Hill School for sharing these photographs
How do I
provide vocabulary practice?
Hunt (letter recognition, sight word
recognition, vocabulary words)
Word Recording Sheet
the 'color' box the students draw and color either the object
the word represents, something related to it somehow, or the color
it makes them think of, feel etc. It really depends on what the
vocab word is. This box can be differentiated from the 'draw'
box by having students 'draw' the word with balloon letters or
unusual font, or giving the word features like eyes, teeth, and
so on. The empty box is for students to write in a synonym, an
antonym, homonym, etc.-whatever fits best with the targeted word.)
Say, Keep (a vocabulary version of the favorite sight word
Girl Synonym Toast
Posters (Print and display.
Have students record synonyms for each poster by writing their
more powerful word choices directly on the poster.)
(Be sure and check out our Student Links