Content Vocabulary

Teaching Vocabulary in the Content Areas

Two kinds of vocabulary Acquistion: 

  1.  Direct (taught vocabulary for a specific purpose)
  2. Indirect (acquired by hearing it at home or school or reading on own)

Keep in Mind:

  1.  EL’s might repeat words or say words, but not really understand the meaning
  2. Multiple meaning words are difficult and need clarified

EL’s need:

  1.  Much more exposure to new vocabulary words than their English-fluent counterparts.
  2. To learn cognates, prefixes, suffixes, and root words to help make sense of new vocabulary.
  3. To be given many opportunities to use and practice new vocabulary.
  4. To hear the pronunciation of the words and to repeat them and practice pronouncing them

Example:  One teacher did the following in order to build background and language related to tornadoes…

  1.  They began the unit by passing out copies of an excerpt from The Wizard of OZ.
  2. Before reading the excerpt aloud, students used highlighters to  mark any words they didn’t understand.
  3. After reading it aloud they identified words they felt they needed to know.
  4. Then they created a word chart and discussed the meanings of words using context clues and dictionaries.
  5. They looked at bolded words in the text and connected them to the reading excerpt.
  6. Then they watched a video clip of a tornado in progress.
  7. Then they wrote a description of what they had learned from their reading and read it aloud to a partner who had to write down any new vocabulary words they heard.  

*The introduction of the excerpt allowed the students to be exposed to a language-rich text of a story many of them were familiar with.  Then they were given many chances to use the vocabulary in many different language domains.  (reading, writing, speaking, and listening)

(*taken from Teaching English Language Learners Across the Content Areas by Judie Haynes and Debbie Zacarian)