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Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers



Definition: Vocabulary is the knowledge of words and word meanings in both oral and print language, and in both expressive forms — speaking and writing — and receptive forms — listening and reading (Pacific Resources for Education & Learning).

Why it’s important

  • To process information quickly and efficiently
  • To use words accurately in oral and written communication
  • To make connections between words and concepts
  • The reader’s level of vocabulary is the best predictor of ability to understand text.

What might I observe in students who need support?

  • The student may fail to demonstrate comprehension, but pass tests of decoding and prior knowledge.
  • You may notice that the student uses only basic vocabulary in oral language or writing.
  • The student may miss context-dependent vocabulary.
  • You may notice that comprehension increases and errors decrease when key words are introduced prior to reading. 

Learn more

21st CCLC programs have a tremendous opportunity to grow the vocabularies of the children they serve. And by bolstering vocabulary, you make children better readers! There are three powerful strategies for Vocabulary Development that you can learn more about in Implementation Strategies:

  • Foster word consciousness.
  • Play with language.
  • Explore word meanings.


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