Teaching Vocabulary - 238 Vocabulary is a set of words known to a


Vocabulary is a set of words known to a person that are part of a specific language. The set of words are used by a person to construct a sentence and a form of communication needed to interact with another person. Increasing one´s vocabulary is considered to be an important part of both learning a language and improving one´s skills in a language.

According to the National Reading Panel, to develop vocabulary, students should be taught both specific words and word-learning strategies. Familiarizing students with vocabulary rich in contexts provided by authentic texts, rather than an isolated vocabulary drill, it can produce a stronger vocabulary learning experience. Knowing vocabulary goes beyond definitional knowledge; it gets the students actively engaged in using and thinking about the meanings of the word and in creating a relationship with the words.

In America, an increasing number of students come from homes in which English is not the primary language. From 1979 to 2003, the number of students who spoke English with difficulty increased by 124 percent. That is why vocabulary development is so important for the English-language learners. Research has found that poor knowledge of vocabularies is creating learners who are less able to comprehend the text at grade level than their English-only peers.

There are two main approaches to teaching vocabulary. The first approach is the list approach, which gives a list of words and their meanings. The list of vocabulary words may or may not be related to the topics the student is studying. The second approach is the contextual approach, which relies on students discovering the meaning of the words through reading.

A studies done by the National Reading Panel believes that there are strategies that can be especially valuable for building the vocabularies of English learners. For instance, taking advantage of the students´ first language, cognates with English, teaching the meaning of basic words, and providing reinforcement. Take for instance, both the English and Spanish language share a large number of cognate pairs, which gives Spanish-speaking learners an advantage over other learners. A second strategy for English learners is learning the meanings of basic words from a list such as the Dale- Chall List. A third strategy is reinforcement. These methods could include read-alouds, teacher-directed activities, listening to audiotapes, activities to extend word use outside of the classroom, and parent involvement.

There are other ways to teach vocabulary to students, such as, matching synonyms, matching opposites, and fill in the blank sentences. Students can learn vocabulary from reading passages by having them guess the word meaning from the context, or give them the meaning of the word and have them find the correct words, or give the students word sheets with a list of words which they can study and talk about. The students can practice pronunciation, conduct oral mini-quizzes, and answer students´ questions. Games are another method that can be used such as, crossword puzzles, and/or acting out the word/pantomimes. Mix and matching the different methods of teaching vocabulary to students can make it more interesting and enjoyable whether or not the levels are varied.

Works Cited

Online Learning Haven; http://www.learninghaven.com/la/vocabulary/teaching_vocabulary.htm

Diamond, Linda; Gutlohn, Linda; Teaching Vocabulary; 2006; http://www.readingrockets.org/articles/9943

Teaching Vocabulary: Two Dozen Tips and Techniques; http://people.bu.edu/jpettigr/Artilces_and_Presentations/Vocabulary.h tm Wikipedia: The free Encycolopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocabulary