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Developing Academic Language: Got Words?

Concerns about how to build academic vocabulary and weave its instruction into curricula are common among classroom teachers. This article reviews the research and offers some practical suggestions for teachers.

Developing "Student-Owned" Vocabulary

Students should learn specific vocabulary and academic language to comprehend content text, but they should also become independent in understanding and owning vocabulary. This article offers tips for developing students’ “vocabulary ownership.”

Two middle school students working at white board

Explicit Vocabulary Instruction

Vocabulary instruction is an important part of English language arts classes, as well as content area classes such as science and social studies. By giving students explicit instruction in vocabulary, teachers help them learn the meaning of new words and strengthen their independent skills of constructing the meaning of text. Learn more in this excerpt from Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices.

Key Literacy Component: Vocabulary

What’s in a word? Mastery of oral and written vocabulary promotes comprehension and communication. Find out how proper instruction can help students who struggle with vocabulary.

Questions About Vocabulary Instruction

This article answers four common questions teachers have about vocabulary instruction, including what words to teach and how well students should know vocabulary words.
two middle school students reading a class text together

Root Words, Roots and Affixes

Familiarity with Greek and Latin roots, as well as prefixes and suffixes, can help students understand the meaning of new words. This article includes many of the most common examples.

Some Obstacles to Vocabulary Development

A strong vocabulary, both written and spoken, requires more than a dictionary. In fact, it requires an educational commitment to overcoming four obstacles: the size of the task (the number of words students need to learn is exceedingly large), the differences between spoken and written English, the limitations of information sources including dictionaries, and the complexity of word knowledge (simple memorization is not enough). Learn more about these challenges to acquiring the 2,500 words a student needs to add each year to their reading vocabulary.

Teach Vocabulary by Building Background Knowledge

Students need to develop an extensive vocabulary to read with fluency. In turn, fluency in reading leads to increased comprehension. Fluency also comes from the written language of the reader since the student writes words he or she knows. Increased comprehension enhances the written language of the learner.