There is a strong connection between a student’s vocabulary and his or her reading ability. The same is true for a student’s ability to listen, speak, and write.
Each person actually has 4 vocabularies, one each for reading, listening, speaking, and writing (listed here from largest to smallest in typical learners)
There is much overlap within the 4 vocabularies but students will always be able to recognize more words than they can produce. (Judy K. Montgomery, 2007)
- There is much overlap within the 4 vocabularies mentioned above but students will always be able to recognize more words than they can produce.
- Students’ word knowledge is linked strongly to academic success because students who have large vocabularies can understand new ideas and concepts more quickly than students with limited vocabularies.
- All students arrive at school with a lexicon. That lexicon is dependent on how many words he/she has heard in the home environment.
- Children from middle class families hear about 48,000 novel words by the time they get to school. Children of professionals hear even more.
- Children of poverty hear about 13,000 novel words. (If you want to read on this topic, check out the 30 million word gap by Betty Hart and Todd Risley)
- Children inherit their vocabularies from their parents so educational status of the parents plays a huge part in a child’s vocabulary. Hart and Risley explain in the article mentioned above that eighty-six to 98% of words recorded in a child’s vocabulary also exist in their parents’ vocabulary.
know about twice as many words as low-performing students, but that differential gets magnified each
year, resulting in high-performing 12th grade students knowing about four times as many words as the low performing
12th graders (Hart & Risley, 1995).
- Dictionary Use (define words)
- Teaching strategies for contextual clues (I actually love doing this at students’ reading level and scaffolding up from there)
- Teaching prefixes and suffixes
- Teaching antonyms, synonyms, categorization
- Teaching vocabulary related to a book, theme, etc.
- Reading to or with students and discussing unknown words
- Teachable moments (when students stumble up on a words they don’t know)
- Dictionary use doesn’t work. Why? Because students need multiple exposures to words in multiple contexts before they can understand, remember and apply new words. (Nagy, 2005) Plus, this task is impossible for nonreaders.
- The odds of accurately predicting a word’s meaning from context clues is very low—ranging from 5 to 15% for both native English speakers and students who are English language learners (Beck et al., 2002) The exceptions are very skilled readers in high school.
- Robert Marzano (vocab guru extraordinaire) explains that learning prefixes and suffixes can be helpful but the traditional way of giving students long lists of suffixes and prefixes is overwhelming and nonproductive; if this strategy is used, he recommends focusing on a handful of high frequency prefixes (un-, re-, in- and dis-).
- Adams (1990) explains that teaching word parts (prefixes, suffixes) is worthwhile with older readers but teaching beginning or less skilled readers about them may be a mistake.
- Struggling readers and students with language and learning disabilities in particular are often lacking in word analysis skills and the meta cognitive skills needed to apply strategies that involve recognizing and applying prefixes, suffixes, antonyms and synonyms to glean a word’s meaning. (Joan Sedita, 2005)
- While teaching thematic vocabulary as well as reading to students and discussing unknown words are great ways to expose students to new words, direct vocabulary instruction should accompany those methods because exposure in multiple contexts is needed to truly move new words from a students’ listening lexicon to their speaking and writing lexicon.
- words students will encounter in all subjects, on tests, and in rich conversations words that important for comprehension
- words that may have multiple meanings
- words that help students sound like mature language users when writing and speaking
After reading countless Tier 2 words lists that are all vastly different, I developed a list for the SLPs in my district to refer to. Basically, I included the words most widely accepted as crucial Tier 2 words, removed a bunch that I thought were ridiculous, and arranged them according to grade level (from prek through 12th grade).
making comprehension accessible for children.” (Rupley, Logan & Nichols, 1998/99).