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June 27. 2017

Teacher Tip: 15 Ways to Increase your Students’ Vocabulary

Vocabulary exists in our long-term memory. The process of learning a new word is first to notice and enter it into short-term memory and then to work with in ways that will make it part of the lexicon stored in long-term memory. Sophisticated readers constantly add new words to their vocabularies, but they have been developing their vocabularies over many years. These readers have learned powerful strategies for noticing important new words and deriving their meaning.

You cannot expect less sophisticated readers, and certainly not struggling readers, to pick up all their vocabulary from context as they read or even when they hear texts read aloud. Along with having students read lots of texts, you can use some simple techniques to help them learn the meaning of words:

  1. Introduce them to a wide range of words in interesting texts.
  2. Make sure they encounter a new word many times.
  3. Make sure they encounter a new word in many contexts.
  4. Provide explicit vocabulary instruction related to each text they read.
  5. Discuss word meanings with them.
  6. Teach them how to recognize the important words in a text.
  7. Help them recognize and use meaningful morphemes (word parts in longer words).
  8. Teach them to use context to derive the meanings of words.
  9. Teach them to use the dictionary or glossary as an aid to verifying meaning.
  10. Help them integrate previously known definitions with new ones as they meet them in in texts.
  11. Help them use new words in discussion and in writing.
  12. Teach them to make connections between words to understand their meaning.
  13. Help them understand words that are used figuratively.
  14. Help them develop deliberate strategies for leaning words.
  15. Encourage persistence and recognize success.

From When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2009 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

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