What is it? 

Vocabulary is words we are comforable with using because we can implement them effectively in spoken and written language. It can also be described as reading vocabulary or oral vocabulary. Oral vocabulary means words that we can recognize when listening to a speaker or or we use when speaking aloud. Reading vocabulary means we recognize and can use in print.  

What does research say? (AKA...why is it important???)

Vocabulary is a key component in the reading process; it plays a fundamental role in reading comprehension. If a student cannot understand what the words on the page means, they cannot comprehend the text. Most often, student learn word meanings indirectly, mostly through day to day experiences in written and oral language. More distinct vocabulary knowledge is gained within the classroom through strategic designed instruction. 

There are three different perspectives from which we can approach struggles with vocabulary.....the student, the parent, and the teacher. Let's explore each perspective.

  • How the student sees it
    • Students can respond negatively if they struggle with vocabulary. They respond with frustration and can say things like, "I hate reading!" or "This is stupid!" Most often students do not enjoy readings on their own if they find it difficult to understand the majority of words in a text. They will even use the same words over and over again in their writing because this is what they are most comfortable with. 
  • What the parent sees at home
    • Parents may or may not notice the struggle with vocabulary before the teacher, depending on how much time they spend reading with their child and having conversations each day. Parents may notice that their child misuses certain words often, or their children do not link words read in a book to similar words in real life. Students may even find it difficult to choose the right word to accurately express their thoughts. 
  • What the teacher sees in the classroom
    • Often times, the teacher is the first to notice when a student has difficulty with vocabulary. One noticeable sign is that a student will consistently ask questions about the meanings of grade level words. Another sign is that a studnet is not able to make connections among vocabulary in multiple texts. 


  • Help to build language skills in the classroom by playing oral/written word games.

  • Teach vocabulary via explicit instruction and through independent reading.

  • Engage students through daily conversations while including new, interesting vocabulary within the conversation.

  • Give students multiple opportunities to encounter target vocabulary in numerous ways both orally and in written language as well. 

Resource Video