Improve your students’ vocabulary today!

A students’ vocabulary can tell you a lot about how much they comprehend when they read. It can also tell you their verbal ability and their ability to learn new words. Academic vocabulary is the greatest challenge for English Language Learners. Because vocabulary is so critical to a students’ academic success, we need to find the best ways to increase their vocabulary. So what are some effective ways to teach new vocabulary?

1. Frequently used words should be taught. If introducing a book, choose key words that are commonly used in the book to discuss prior to reading.

2. Content area teachers should select word lists for students to study that are critical to understanding new concepts.

3. Encourage students to select their own lists based on books they are reading. Then they can go through them in groups and identify their meanings.

4. Teach word or word parts to learn other words.

5. Introduce word lists that students need to know and make sure they practice reading them and understand their meaning. Here is a link for a list:

6. Conduct read alouds where you can discuss vocabulary words during and after the reading.

7. Have students look up word meanings online. They can work in groups to promote motivation and discussion.

8. Teach cognates (words similar to students’ native languages). This will help students learn how to use them to figure out words in English.

All these tips are helpful, but if students do not use the words they learn, they will not be as effective. Encourage students to use their new learned words throughout their day. Keeping a vocabulary notebook is also effective since students can continue to go through their lists and refer to them as needed.

Ann Navarro

About Ann Navarro

Ann has teaching experience working with elementary students in the areas of bilingual education, dual language, English as a Second Language, and Reading. Ann holds a Masters Degree in Curriculum & Instruction with a Reading Specialist Concentration. She also has experience evaluating lesson plans for the Smithsonian Institution. In her spare time, Ann enjoys spending time with her family outdoors and reading.

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