What is it?

Vocabulary refers to the words that we know that help us communicate.  Vocabulary is often broken up into four types of vocabulary: Reading, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.  Each one referring to the words we use or recognize while doing each of the actions, so reading vocabulary would be the words we recognize while reading.   Vocabulary is important for reading comprehension because a child can not understand what they are reading if they do not know what the words mean that they are reading.  They might know how to pronounce "throw" but if they do not know what throw means, then it does not help them comprehend the text.  


Research shows that children learn vocabulary in two ways, indirectly and directly.  Indirect learning would be learning through ways such as daily oral exchanges, listening to adults read to them, or reading on their own.  Direct learning would be through ways such as providing students with a specific list of words to learn, teaching word learning strategies(such as looking for a root word or using context clues), and teaching specific words before reading a text. 


There are a plethora of strategies to use for teaching vocabulary.  Below are some of the strategies that can be used to teach both indirectly and directly.  


1. Read to your class, regardless of how old they are.  While this might seem like a common strategy, it is often abandoned after elementary school; however, students of all ages need to see vocabulary usage from adults.  

2. Have students read independently.  This is not something you will want to do very often in your class, so encourage them to read outside of the classroom.  A teacher could let the students read after turning in work, or while they are working with a small group.  



1. Specific Word learning.  This is one of the most commonly used methods, as teachers give the students a list of words for them to learn.  This can used to teach words that will be used in the text that is about to be read, it can be used to teach common grade level words that the students will see often, or even tiered to help students who might have an extensive vocabulary to learn even more. 

2. Word learning strategies. While specific word learning is useful, it is impossible to teach a student every single word in the English language, which is where word learning strategies come in.  The strategies are methods such as teaching students how to use a dictionary, using word parts(prefixes, suffixes, or root words) to figure out the meaning of a word, or even using context clues to help them understand the meaning of a word.  

3. Teaching related words.  One example of this could be word gradients.  Have students list different words that mean to move in order of slowest to fastest.  You could also have them list words that mean to say something in order from softest to loudest. 


Teaching vocabulary words through context clues

Pre-teaching vocabulary words before reading a text