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Why Does Vocabulary

Possessing and using a powerful vocabulary helps us better understand
others, be better understood by others, and enjoy the richness of the English
Michael Graves, Teaching Individual Words, 2009. Pg. 3

Vocabulary is among the greatest predictors of reading

comprehension. (Baker, Simmons, Kameenui)

The relationship between vocabulary and reading proficiency

is so powerful that there is evidence that vocabulary size in
kindergarten is an effective predictor of reading
comprehension and academic achievement in the later
school years. (Scarborough)

Vocabulary acquisition is crucial to academic development.

Not only do students need a rich body of word knowledge to
succeed in basic skill areas, but they need a specialized
vocabulary to learn content area material. (Baker, Simmons,

Vocabulary instruction improves writing. (Fisher, Frey

Williams, Stevens)

Word knowledge is directly related to a learners content

knowledge, especially through reading. (Flood, Lapp, Fisher)

Lack of vocabulary can be a crucial factor underlying the

school failure of disadvantaged students. (Becker, Biemiller)

One of the most crucial services that teachers can provide,

particularly for students who do not come from academically
advantaged backgrounds is systematic instruction in
important academic terms. (Marzano, Pickering)
Missing only 5 percent of the words in a text makes it nearly
incomprehensive. (Frey, Fisher)

The vocabulary we use strongly influences judgments of our

competence. Graves
Principles of Effective Vocabulary
Robert Marzano, Building Background Knowledge for Academic
Achievement: Research on What Works in Schools, pp. 70-90

1. Effective vocabulary instruction

does not rely on definitions.

2. Students must represent their

knowledge of words in linguistic and
nonlinguistic ways.

3. Effective vocabulary instruction

involves the gradual shaping of word
meanings through multiple exposures.

4. Teaching word parts enhances

students understanding of terms.

5. Different types of words require

different types of instruction.

6. Students should discuss the terms
they are learning.

7. Students should play with words.

New Vocabulary Do You Know It?

New Know it Think I Have Never Its Greek

Word wellcan know it heard of heard of to me
use it in a might be itbut itbut
sentence able to couldnt might be
define it use it in a able to
sentence figure it
or define out

Prefixes and Suffixes
To teach or not to teach?
The following prefixes account for 76% of prefixed words and the
suffixes account for 85% of suffixed words.

Prefixes Suffixes
un- -s; -es
dis- -ed
in-; im- -ing
non- -ly
ir- -er; -or
en-;em- -tion; -ion; -ation; -ition
over- -able; -ible
mis- -al; ial
re- -y


1. Just four prefixes (un-, in-, dis-, non-) account for nearly 50% of all
prefixed words.

2. Prefixes are not consistent in their meanings.

3. False analysis with prefixes often occur.

4. Looking only at word parts sometimes mislead the reader in

determining the meaning of the word.


The purpose of all vocabulary instruction is for students to achieve

independence in word learning.

Teachers Vocabulary Plan for Teaching Units of

1. Which new words do your students already know?

2. Which words will you need to teach thoroughly because they represent important
3. Which words should you place on a chart or wall for easy reference?
4. Pre-reading strategies

Have students survey the chapter, looking at words in bold, related

illustrations, and footnotes.

Activate background knowledge of words and concepts by discussing

words with the class.

Divide words among students and have them explain words to class.

Show connections/associations to help students remember words.

5. During-reading strategies:

Have students keep a vocabulary section of their notebook or use

vocabulary bookmarks.
Use graphic organizers with labels such as the following: meaning,
example, illustration, sentence, non-example.

Help students expand words meaning by exploring concepts related to

word: panel discussions, debates, research, blogs.
6. After-reading strategies:

Use words often in various contexts, even when you have moved to
another unit.

Keep the word wall and have students add to it illustrations, words they
see in other reading, new meanings.

Designate a bulletin board for political cartoons, comic
strips, quotes, and words cut from magazines or
newspapers related to topics of study.