Promoting Vocabulary Development: Components of Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Poor readers often lack adequate vocabulary to get meaning from what they read. Consequently, reading is difficult and tedious for them, and they are unable (and often unwilling) to do the large amount of reading they must do if they are to encounter unknown words often enough to learn them. This situation contributes to what are called “Matthew Effects,” that is, interactions with the environment that exaggerate individual differences over time, with “rich get richer, poor get poorer” consequences. Good readers read more, become even better readers, and learn more words; poor readers read less, become poorer readers, and learn fewer words. Indeed, the vocabulary problems of students who enter school with poor or limited vocabularies only worsen over time.

Download and review the Promoting Vocabulary Development publication. The booklet is divided into three parts. The first part outlines some of the obstacles that can make vocabulary development a difficult task. The second part provides an overview of the components of effective vocabulary instruction and  how these components can help students overcome the major obstacles to vocabulary growth. Part three describes some specific techniques that are especially useful in teaching word meanings as concepts, particularly in the content areas.

Promoting Vocabulary Development: Professional Development Resources to Support Learning

Finding ways to increase students’ vocabulary growth throughout the school years must become a major educational priority. Words are the very foundation of learning. Vocabulary development is an important part of instruction across all grade levels and content areas.

The following resources support teacher development in learning how to effectively promote vocabulary development.

Target 2% Lessons to Support Vocabulary for Grades K through 5

This resource provides vocabulary activities designed to enhance the instruction of all teachers of reading and to meet the learning needs of all students, as indicated by data.

Texas Adolescent Literacy Academy: Unit 2: Vocabulary

This resource provides information for secondary teachers on how to effectively select and teach vocabulary words in all content areas.

ELL Foundations: Effective Instructional Strategies and Routines  (CPE credit available)

This course covers the key content objectives of providing differentiated instruction, building academic vocabulary, and facilitating cooperative learning.