Monday, March 24, 2014

Vocabulary Building Strategies- Part I

My biggest struggle as a dual-language teacher, is teaching vocabulary effectively. There are a myriad of meaningful and useful ways vocabulary can be taught and the internet is filled with a plethora of activities and lessons. 
It is so hard to choose from so many ways on how to teach vocabulary!

It is important to keep in mind, that academic vocabulary takes our ELLs 7-10 years to acquire (CALPS).
Also, students have to learn both content language and a new language at the same time. Sheltered Language Instruction integrates language and content.

Christen and Murphy suggest 3 major Instructional Interventions:

1. Teach vocabulary as a pre-reading step
2. Provide experiences
3. Introduce a conceptual framework (build background)

My main goal, is for my students to develop core vocabulary over time that will help them academically. I do take into consideration that state testing requires our students to have the "testing vocabulary" necessary to be pass these formal assessments.

Here are some activities that have helped my students to retain new vocabulary:

1. Word Web

  • You can use it to preteach vocabulary and organize details about a word. How?
  • Write the word in the center
  • In each outside circle, write a meaning/characteristic of the word

2. Concept Definition Map 

  • A great way to learn and remember content vocabulary and concepts. How?
  • Choose a new word and define it, compare it and include 2 examples. 

3.  Four-Corners Vocabulary

  • Enables students to contextualize words. How?
  • Draw an illustration 
  • Write a sentence that includes the word 
  • Write a definition of the word

Do you have any vocabulary strategies or activities that have helped your students?


  1. @sshainfeld Sarah ShainfeldMarch 30, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    I plan on slightly adapting and using these tomorrow to help my students learn Spanish - thank you for the visuals!

  2. Vocabulary is important for comprehension. Readers can’t understand what they read without knowing what most words mean. The most profitable and enduring manner through which to strengthen vocabulary skills is to teach students to use word structure to determine meaning. helps to enhance your lexical strength.
    Give a shot..!!


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