TEACHING VOCABULARY THAT
STUDENTS WILL REMEMBER
An Early-Career Starter Sheet
Methods EDUC 463
“When our classrooms become laboratories for
words—places where students can experiment
with words and word usage, can try on new
words and see how they fit—students begin to
naturally seek out and adopt new words into
their lives and personal vocabularies” (Smith
Comic courtesy of http://teacherweb.com
Teachers must understand that. . .
Did You Know that . . .
“80 percent of English words ‘borrowed’
The days of simple word lists
from other languages have their origins in
and weekly quizzes are over.
Greek and Latin roots, compromising 60
Rote memorization is not effective
percent of our entire language” (Kail 65).
for long term learning.
Students increase their lexicon by “Seventy percent of the most frequently
“looking up definitions, recognizing used words have multiple meanings”
new words in a variety of contexts, (Bromley 531).
using new words in writing and
speaking, identifying a new word’s “Meanings of 60% of multisyllabic words
part of speech or multiple parts of can be inferred by analyzing word parts”
speech, and connecting new words (Bromley 533).
with familiar words” (Nelson 33).
Responsible vocabulary instruction is The size of a student’s vocabulary directly
teaching useful, high frequency affects reading comprehension.
Teaching fewer words well is better Students actually like learning vocabulary
than teaching a lot of words when they can use it in meaningful ways.
Teachers must understand that. . .
Using mentor texts to teach
vocabulary puts words in context.
HOW DO I TEACH VOCABULARY?
Works Cited and
Here are some ideas for action: References
Allow students to select new words for Bates, Larry. “Responsible Vocabulary Word
Selection: Turning the Tide of 50-
study from the literature they are reading in Cent Terms.” English Journal 97.4
class and keep a word list on the wall.
Have students create their own practice Bromley, Karen. “Nine Things
Every Teacher Should Know
quizzes to give each other before the actual About Words and Vocabulary
test. Instruction.” Journal of Adolescent
& Adult Literacy. 50.7 (2007):
Ask students to incorporate their vocabulary 528-537. Web.
terms in their writing and use them as much
Hardwick-Ivey, Amy R. “Vocabulary in
as possible in everyday speech. Action: Strategies for Turning
Teach vocabulary using Powerpoints that Students into Wordsmiths.”
English Journal 97.4 (2008): 56-
contain the definitions and visuals so that 61.
students may recall associated images. Kail, Suzanne R. “Vocabulary Instruction
Goes ‘Old School’.” English
Have students write jingles or couplets to Journal 97.4 (2008): 62-67.
help them remember words. Nelson, Deanna L. “A Context-Based
Engage students with drama activities like Strategy for Teaching
Vocabulary.” English Journal 97.4
improvisation that requires them to (2008): 33-37.
include vocabulary words in the dialogue. Smith, Thomas B. “Teaching Vocabulary
Put students in groups that compete against Expeditiously: Three Keys to
Improving Vocabulary Instruction”
each other in vocabulary games so that each English Journal 97.4 (2008): 20-
team member has to take a turn at answering
the questions. “A man with a scant vocabulary will almost
Try teaching the roots, prefixes, and suffixes certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and
of various words so students are more apt more copious one's vocabulary and the
to use these tools to uncover the meaning greater one's awareness of fine distinctions
of new words. and subtle nuances of meaning, the more
Reuse old vocabulary words on new fertile and precise is likely to be one's
vocabulary exams because repetition is key thinking. Knowledge of things and
for long term memory storage. knowledge of the words for them grow
Be excited about new words so that your together. If you do not know the words, you
students can be excited too! can hardly know the thing.”
― Henry Hazlitt, Thinking As a