Watch the coaching session above to gain ideas for planning and implementing high-quality literacy activities in vocabulary development.
English Language Learners: Vocabulary acquisition in the second language is one of the primary goals of literacy instruction for English language learners. Here are some tips to facilitate vocabulary acquisition:
A reader’s level of vocabulary is the best predictor of ability to understand text (Anderson & Freebody, 1981; Davis, 1944). Therefore, developing the vocabulary knowledge of students is critically important to improving their literacy skills. Activities focused on improving vocabulary knowledge will have a direct impact on word recognition, fluency and comprehension.
Foster Word Consciousness:
Word consciousness is being aware and intrigued by the words and language in one’s environment. Being word conscious can increase reading comprehension and help students become more engaged and motivated to read. Here are some simple ways to get students more word conscious:
- Collect, catalog or post examples of vivid or meaningful new terms.
- Have students locate and share new and interesting words used outside of learning activities. Simply creating an avenue for them to pay attention to the language around them heightens awareness.
- Assign students roles as language detectives, asking them to notice and describe ways people express similar thoughts.
- Look for interesting word choices in books and have students discuss how meaning would be changed if the author had chosen a different word or phrase.
- Award points to students “caught” using chosen words in conversation or writings.
Play with Language:
Students who understand that words and sentences can have more than one meaning are able to think flexibly about language, which is a crucial component of making sense of text. Students learn to monitor their reading more carefully because they understand that more than one meaning is possible and they have to consider the meaning in that particular context. This ability to think about and manipulate language is crucial to being a proficient reader.
- Use jokes, riddles or multiple meaning sentences to help students explore the flexible use of language and its impact on meaning.
- The chicken was ready to eat. (What does this mean if a farmer says it? What about a chef?)
- I saw her duck.
- Did you ever hear the story about the blind carpenter who picked up his hammer and saw?
- Play with idioms.
- Learning idioms is a piece of cake! Introduce the idiom with a picture. Provide a definition and describe the origin of the idiom, if known (when something requires little effort to finish, it’s a piece of cake. The origin for this idiom is from the 1870s, when cakes were often given as prizes for winning competitions). Then make sure to put the idiom into context by using it in a variety of situations, so students understand subtleties of meaning.
- Explore newspaper or magazine headlines, or advertisement copy.
- Discuss meaning of such newspaper headlines as this one from the New York Times: “Balloons have become a high flying business and sell at inflated prices.” Or talk about ad copy such as this from Volkswagen: "If gas pains persist, try Volkswagen."
Explore Word Meanings:
Students who understand word meanings at a deeper level are more easily able to access words and use them to convey or understand subtleties of meaning. Models which help students explore word meanings from a number of different aspects encourage deep understanding. The two models presented here require students to analyze, synthesize and apply information.
- Use a Frayer Chart to explore different aspects of a word.
- Use a Semantic Map to go deeper into what a word means.
For younger children, try the Vocabulary Parade for Grades K-6.
For older children, try the Vocabulary Collage for Grades 7-12.
- 2Key Terms
- 3Literacy Diagram
- 4Literacy: A Cornerstone of College and Career Readiness
- 5Literacy Skills Develop Over Time
- 6“Texts” Come in All Shapes and Sizes
- 7Literacy: An Evolving Set of Skills
- 8Oral Language and the Reading Connection
- 9Unlocking Meaning: Vocabulary is the Key
- 10The Vocabulary Gap
- 11How Do Reading Skills Develop?
- 12How Do We Become Good Readers?
- 13Five Components of Reading
- 14Phonemic Awareness
- 19Comprehension — Putting the Pieces Together
- 20Developmental Stages of Reading
- 21Stage 1 — Visual Cue Word Recognition
- 22Stage 2 — Phonetic Cue Word Recognition
- 23Stage 3 — Controlled Word Recognition
- 24Stage 4 — Automatic Word Recognition
- 25Stage 5 — Strategic Reading
- 26Stage 6 — Proficient Adult Reading
- 27How’s My Reading?
- 28The Power of Writing!
- 29How Writing Skills Develop
- 30Why Literacy Is Important
- 31Preventing Summer Learning Loss
- 32Literacy Everywhere
- 33Deepen Your Understanding
- 34Listen to Students Read Aloud
- 35The Value of Good Questions
- 36Motivation — A Key to Promoting Positive Reading Behaviors
- 37Literacy Skills Affect Future Success and Civic Participation
- 38Learn More Library
- 41Check for Understanding