Vocabulary Instructions




  1. Overview of Plan and Rationale

TheNoChild is Left Behind Policyhas encouraged tutors to focus their attention on individual studentachievements. Tutors want to reduce the gap between theEnglish-speaking children and the vulnerable groups such as thosecoming from low socioeconomic backgrounds, children of color andthose who are English Language Learners (ELL) for effective learning.Teachers have discovered and appreciated that learning languagecontinues well beyond elementary schools, encouraging them toincorporate language learning at the adolescent level. More attentionis being put on adolescent reading comprehension and literacy demandsin their content areas. They have decided to approach this matterwith care because the content involved at the adolescent level ismore involving and with a wide range of vocabulary (Sweeny &ampMason, 2011. p.1-2).

Thetwo important aspects of learning vocabulary in a student are thevolume of vocabulary they have upon joining a specific course orschool and the ability to learn new vocabulary. However, specialattention is given to students whose first and second languageaffects English Language Learning. In these students, the influenceof the vocabulary volume of the first and/or the second languagebecomes problematic for ELLs. This essay is an attempt to analyze the“research findings, specific suggestions teachers can use in theirclassrooms, recommendations for supporting the vocabulary developmentof special needs students and English Language Learners, content areavocabulary instruction, and school-level considerations. A briefexplanation for each category is provided and interested readers canuse the Reference section to locate original research articles formore details (Sweeny&amp Mason, 2011, p.2).”

  1. Goal and the Number of Words per Week

Learningskills have moved from the presentation of a list of new vocabularyto students during the start of a learning session for them topractice and learn before the exam in a more holistic andcomprehensive way. Teachers are adopting the idea of presenting wordswith interconnection to practice skills that foster conceptualknowledge by presenting words that are connected and contextualized.Despite the fact that students will learn fewer words using thismode, they will be able to apply the vocabulary in their Englishlanguage correctly therefore, infer the meaning of the new words(Sweeny &amp Mason, 2011, p.2-7).

Effectivevocabulary learning therefore, involves choosing a specific numberof words and allowing many opportunities the students can use toapply the words in their language use. Multiple interactions of newwords in different circumstances allows for durable and appropriatelearning of words. In the selection of these new words, both teachersand students should be involved because it builds a personalcommitment from the student to learning and conceptualizing these newwords, in addition to coordination with the teacher in the provisionof material that is closely related to the subject for wider andcomprehensive learning. It increases their metacognition whilereading and also makes the purpose of learning more meaningful. It ishowever very challenging to know which words to choose. A teacher`sknowledge of a specific subject coupled with their ability toidentify the important concepts that are relevant to the students’learning and how well they know their students in terms of theirlearning ability and capacity are all factors that determine whichsubject to choose and how many words to deal with. This might changefrom one learner to the next due to a difference in the ability tolearn new vocabulary and the ability to apply it in differentcontexts.

  1. Processes Used for Teaching New Terms

Agood approach is first to determine which content area the studentwill be dealing with within a specific period, for example, anacademic year or a semester. Then, the focus should be put on theprimary concepts that the students need to grasp or the mostimportant and essential words in specific concept. Words selectedshould reflect and be well representative across the content area. Ageneral step by step approach may involve reading the text selectionin advance to determine instructional purpose. Then, identify thewords or concepts that are essential for the student. Identifyconnections and relationships between concepts and words chosen forinstruction. After that, choose the words that you think studentsmust know before the reading. Determine which words are lessapplicable to the concepts the student will interact with throughoutthe period. Lastly, determine the content you want the student tolearn. This step-by-step approach allows students to learn the mostimportant and must-know words in a specific concept and it also givesthe teacher time to create links between words, concepts, units ofstudy and subject areas.

  1. Frequency of Use of New Terms

Workingwith the new terms as frequent a possible helps the student toconceptualize the words and put them in the right context. Afterlearning a specific set of vocabulary, it is important to allow thechildren more time to expand their knowledge of the new words by widereading. Reading of different material will also improve theirability to apply what they learn because some vocabularies are usedin more than one context. Working with new terms can be challenging,especially if no effort is put in terms of applicability. The more astudent uses certain terms, they more they build on theirunderstanding of the terms. If a specific set of vocabulary coveringa specific concept learnt, the teacher must provide avenues thatallow the student to interact with the words more. The more theinteraction means better learning, especially if there is goodcoordination between the teacher and the students where the studentis showing personal commitment to learn (Archer, 2008, n.p). Thedecision to include the student in picking the set of vocabulary tobe learnt helps because an added interest from the students eases andfastens the speed of learning. This added interest is an indicationthat learning is presented to the students in a more independent andsupportive manner that encourage the development of strategies tolearn new words and concepts in the students.

  1. Activities and Materials Used in Reviewing and Connecting Terms

  • Instructional Practices

Vocabularyinstructions just like reading instruction whereby, it involvescognitive skills instruction. A big part of the learning depends onthe background of the children. There is a need for students to drawfrom their background and be metacognitive in their encounter of newwords. Students should have the ability to notice things about wordswhich allows them to predict and infer meanings. For a teacher toanalyze if a student understands the concepts and context at hand,they should encourage students to ask questions regarding the use ofspecific words, analyze words and parts of words and make them feelindependent to make judgments about using certain words as well asevaluating the use of words and their connection to others.

  • Word Learning

Memorizationalone does not give the student a good opportunity to understand newwords. Coupled with the frequent use of the learnt words,memorization and connection of the new words with already learntwords and concepts helps to improve sustained learning. Learningshould be not only formal in terms of providing direct vocabularyinstructions but also casual where the teacher provides platforms forcasual use and discussion of words. It can be fun and faster to learnnew words if we incorporate games and hands-on strategies. Reading,writing, listening, discussing new words and language and acting outwords are some of the active learning strategies that should beemployed to encourage sustained learning. Analyzing semantic featuresand mapping semantic words together with visual imagery and morphemicanalysis are other strategies that improve learning. Additionally,classification of words in terms of root, pronunciation, meaning,speech and emotion provide a good way of conceptualization (Robb,2003, n.p).

  • Word Walls

Thesehave become a characteristic feature of elementary classes becausethey stimulate memory and encourage learning by being sight remindersof spelling, sight words, concepts words and content-area words. Inmiddle and higher classes, word walls reinforce the new and morecomplex words learnt in the different subjects (Sweeny &amp Mason,2011, p.4-5).

  1. Activities Used in Engaging Students, Self-reflecting and Encouraging Progress

Casualconversations and hands-on strategies are the best activities to usein order to encourage students engaging with others in terms of useof new words. Casual conversations remove the strictness associatedwith formal class learning, giving a student enough room to use newwords freely. Mistakes realized in this forum can be corrected easilysince the students feel free to use the words in the ways they deembest (Allen, 2015, n.p).

Encouragingstudents to spend a specific amount of hours speaking English andusing the new words and concepts learnt in class is also a good wayof stimulating memory. In order to foster the application of thevocabulary and concepts widely in their language, students should bemade to use the language more frequently. This works perfectly,especially in elementary schools where the foundation of language andvocabulary is made, and among the ELLs.

Socialthings like plays, social events and even TV programs can help thestudents master the concepts of the different vocabulary. This canalso help the students to learn new applications of the vocabulary aswell as learning synonyms and antonyms to new vocabulary. Studentsshould also be encouraged to read English material such as newspapersand fictional books, novels and articles that not only satisfy thereader`s appetite for reading but also helps them to cement theconcept of contextualizing. The teachers should also provide aplatform that encourages students to share what they have learnt intheir causal interactions (Robb, 2003, n.p).

  • Assessment

Assessmentmeasures the breadth and depth of vocabulary. Multiple choice testsand standardized test at the end of an academic period or unitmeasure the breadth of English learning only. The problem with usingthis approach is extremely selective to a specific subject or unit.Tests like ITBS involve a wide corpus of vocabulary, making it morecomprehensive and relevant. Currently, teachers are short onpractices that focus on holistic assessment of English (Archer, 2008,n.p Marzano,2004, p.100-117).

Somescholars have come up with a three continuous formula for assessment.The first continuum, Discrete-Embedded, allows the students to treateach vocabulary as a single unit where everything about specificvocabulary or a set of words is covered intensely. Teachers then usea checklist to assess whether the student has applied the vocabularycorrectly. Selective-comprehensive continuum encourages the selectionof a larger set of vocabulary from a wide corpus in order tofacilitate comprehension. The context-independent-context-dependentcontinuum tests the ability of the student to use context only toderive the meaning or a certain word. In a multiple choice question,all answers are usually closely related to the word in question. Thisapproach is a best in assessing how holistic the student hasunderstood specific vocabulary, their ability to apply them indifferent contexts and their understanding of related words such assynonyms and antonyms.


Allen,J. (2007).&nbspInsidewords: Tools for teaching academic vocabulary, grades 4-12.Stenhouse Publishers.

Archer,A. (2008). Dynamic vocabulary instruction. In&nbspAdvancedCoaching Institute III Texas Reading First Conference, Houston, TX.

Marzano,R. J. (2004). The developing vision of vocabulary instruction.Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice,100-117.

Robb,L. (2003).&nbspTeachingreading in social studies, science, and math.Scholastic Teaching Resources.

Sweeny,S. M., &amp Mason, P. A. (2011). Research-based practices invocabulary instruction: An analysis of what works in grades PreK-12.