Vocabulary in Primary School

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Vocabulary knowledge has a wide-ranging influence on a child’s reading comprehension ability. Therefore it is important to ensure that students are being taught vocabulary in an effective and long-lasting manner. Below is a program designed by Dr Lorraine Hammond from Edith Cowan University on effective vocabulary instruction however, there are other ways of teaching vocabulary as well.

Dr Hamond separates words in Tiers. Examples of Tier 1, 2 and 3 words are below:

  • Tier 1 (everyday words) – lamp, spider, shirt, flower, mouse
  • Tier 2 (language of academics, business, government) – illusion, improvise, meticulous, glimpse, edible
  • Tier 3 (domain-specific terminology) – hydraulic, asymmetrical, monograph, periodical

1. Decide which Tier 2 words are relevant and teachable to your students.

When choosing tier 2 words to teach your students, it is important to consider the importance and utility of the word, as well as its instructional potential: you mus be able to explain the words using concrete, simple terms. It is also important to consider whether the students already have the vocabulary to explain this word.

2. Write some child-friendly definitions that are meaningful to your students

Use language that your students are familar with and try to capture the definition of the word in its broadest application. For example:

Furious: Someone who is furious is extremely angry

Premonition: If you have a premonition, you have a feeling that something is going to happen, often something unpleasant.

3. Provide an additional context for a word

For example, Furious doesn’t always mean extremely angry. Furious can also be used to describe something that is done with great energy, effort, speed or violence.

4. Provide opportunities for students to actively process word meanings

The key to effective activities is that they require students to attend to the meaning of a word in order to apply it to a given situation. Some examples of opportunities for students to engage in words include:

  • Word associations
  • Have you ever? questions
  • Idea completions
  • Questions, reasons, examples, making choices

5. Provide for a high frequency of encounters over time

Frequent encounters with words make new knowledge ‘stick’. It is recommended that teachers provide their students with 10 new words per week, with daily activities, as well as ongoing revision of words that have already been introduced.

6. Review student learning

The most effective way to review student learning is by asking, specifically about the new vocabulary. Learners need six (meaningful) exposures to a new word during the initial lesson and at least 30 additional exposure during the ensuing month.

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Information for this page was taken from Dr Lorraine Hammond’s lecture, “Teaching Vocabulary: One component of reading comprehension” presented at the SPELD Conference 2009 on 7th October, 2009 . The Quirky Kid team attended to this event.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);

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