TEACHING VOCABULARY ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
How would you define Vocabulary?
What is Vocabulary?
Vocabulary can be defined as
“the words we must know to communicate
effectively: the words in speaking ( expressive
vocabulary) and words in listening( receptive
Dwyer, 2009 p.385)
The vocabulary system is taken as an essential matter at the
moment of teaching a second language in a classroom which is
present in all the skills of the language (reading, writing,
speaking and listening). One of the reasons is that students
need to develop their knowledge in the context of second
language learning. In the following paragraphs it will be discuss,
according to Nation (2001), Hedge (2000) and Sökmen (1997)
some strategies, factors affecting vocabulary acquisition and
useful exercises among others
The nature of language teaching
(Aims and Objectives)
The purpose of English teaching
a. To improve their four skills.
Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing
b. To cultivate their communicative competence.
c. To show them the way to study themselves.
Ways to learn vocabulary:
Nation (2001) mentioned two ways which vocabulary can be learned. The first way is to learn
vocabulary through oral skills which involves listening and speaking. In listening learners can
pick up new vocabulary as teachers read to them and in speaking learners are suggest to memorise
as well as vocabulary knowledge a large number of clauses and phrases. The second way is to
learn vocabulary through written skills which involves reading and writing. In reading students
can learn new vocabulary by guessing words from context and in writing teachers ask for words to
be marked so it can be used to encourage vocabulary development.
Research on Imagery as Elaboration
Students who used imagery to learn vocabulary, on
37 percent higher than… …students who kept
21 percent higher than… …students who were
using the terms in a
magn (large, great)
-ify (v. to do)
TEACHING VOCABULARY ACROSS THE
IMPORTANCE OF VOCABULARY
Vocabulary has long been an important topic in academic circles ,but today it could be considered a hot
Research on Vocabulary
One important finding from research suggests vocabulary
learning never stops.(Smith, 1998)
It is a natural and lifelong phenomenon.
Different Kinds of Words Require Different Kinds of
Learning a basic oral vocabulary
Learning to read known words
Learning new words representing known concepts
Learning new words representing new concepts
Learning new meanings for known words
Clarifying and enriching the meanings of known words
Moving words into students’ expressive vocabularies
Building English learners’ vocabularies
What does the literature say on Vocabulary
Vocabulary instruction should focus on critical words
Effective vocabulary instruction does not rely on
Teaching word parts enhances understanding.
Different types of words require different types of
Active engagement improves learning.
Repeated exposure is essential.
Characteristics of Effective Direct Vocabulary
Effective vocabulary instruction does not rely on definitions.
2. Students must represent their knowledge of words in linguistic and
3. Different types of words require different types of instruction.
4. Students should discuss the terms they are learning.
5. Students should play with words.
The Case Against Providing Only
When people first learn words, they understand them more as
descriptions as opposed to definitions (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan,
looks like one
thing but is really
something else or
is not there at all
Building Academic Vocabulary
A Six-Step Process
YOUR FEEDBACK ? How would you
1 to 5 new
Student friendly descriptions, examples,
explanations, images, etc.
Must connect to students’ prior knowledge
Students generalize meaning
3. Students create nonlinguistic representation
Engage students in word activities
Engage student “play” with words
ASCD. (2005). Building Academic Vocabulary: Student Notebook.(
A Quick Note:
Student Note Taking
Students must be able to adjust
and build on their understanding
VOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT SHEET
Part of Speech
Picture or Cartoon
“Teaching words well means
giving students multiple
opportunities to develop word
meaning and learn how words are
conceptually related to one
another in the texts that they are
3 Types of Vocabulary
1. General Vocabulary- consists of words with
acknowledged meanings in common usage.
2. Specialized vocabulary- is made up of words from
everyday life, general vocabulary that takes on
specialized meanings when adapted to a particular
3. Technical Vocabulary- consists of words that have
usage and application only in a particular subject
Experiences, Concepts, and Words
Words are labels for concepts however; a single
concept represents much more than a single word.
What does it mean to know a word? Depends on how
well we understand the relationships among direct
experiences, concepts, and words.
Learning is much more intense and Meaningful when
it develops through the child’s first hand experience.
What are concepts?
Concepts create a mental image, which may represent
anything that can be grouped together by common
features or similar criteria: objects, symbols, ideas,
processes and events. Common Element or
Concepts are similar to schemata!!
For EVERY concept there is an example!!!
Using Graphic Organizers to Make Connections
among Key Concepts
A graphic organizer is a diagram that uses content vocabulary to help students
anticipate concepts and their relationships to one another in the reading
Analyze the vocabulary and list the important words
Arrange the list of words
Add to the Scheme vocabulary terms that you believe the students understand.
Evaluate the organizer.
Introduce students to learning tasks
As you complete the learning task, relate new information to the organizer
Activating what students know about words
Graphic organizers can be used to activate the student’s prior knowledge
of the vocabulary words in the given assignment or study unit and also
clarify their understanding of concepts as they study texts.
To show the relationship in a thematic unit in a chapter or chapter
To build a frame of reference for students as they approach new material
Activate prior knowledge of the vocabulary words in a text assignment or
unit of study
Clarify their understanding of concepts as they study text
Word exploration is a writing to learn strategy that
works well as a vocabulary activity.
A word exploration activity invites students to write
quickly and spontaneously, a technique called free
The purpose of free writing is to get down on paper everything a student
knows about a topic in just a few minutes. This activity will activate schema
and long term memory.
How to activate what students know…
Word Sorts, Word Walls
And Knowledge Ratings are also great activities to activate what students
know about words.
Word walls provide easy
access to words students
need. The specific
organization of the word
wall will match the
The most helpful word
walls grow and change
throughout the year and
are used as a learning
get readers to
analyze what their
prior knowledge is
about the topic.
VSS- Vocabulary Self Collection Strategy
Promotes long term acquisition of language in an academic discipline.
Divide the class into teams of two
Present the word each team has selected to the class ( where it’s
found, what team thinks it means, why the team thinks class should learn
CD Word Mapping- Concept of Definition Word
provides a framework for
information in the process of
defining a word.
CD word map instruction
supports vocabulary and concept
learning by helping students
internalize a strategy for defining
and clarifying the meaning of
REINFORCING AND EXTENDING VOCABULARY KNOWLEDGE AND
Students need many experiences, real and vicarious to
develop word meaning and concepts. They need to
use, test, and manipulate technical terms in
instructional situations that capitalize on reading,
writing, speaking, and listening.
In having students to do these things, you create the
kind of natural language environment that is needed
to extend vocabulary and concept development. There
are many activities that can be used to develop these
RTI framework helps teachers plan
lessons so that students can learn
vocabulary concepts as they relate to
their understanding of the text. RTI
supports thoughtful vocabulary
instruction that allows each student to
There are also some activities examples
that help extend and reinforce
vocabulary knowledge and concepts.
Semantic Feature Analysis
(SFA) – establishes a
meaningful link between
students’ prior knowledge
and words that are
conceptually related to one
another. As a teaching
activity, SFA is easily suited to
before or after reading
Showing learners how to construct meaning for
unfamiliar words encountered during reading helps
them develop strategies needed to monitor
comprehension and increase their own vocabularies.
Demonstrating how to use context, word structure,
and the dictionary provides students with several basic
strategies for vocabulary learning that will last a
USING CONTEXT TO APPROXIMATE MEANING
Constructing meaning from context is one of the most
useful strategies at the command of proficient readers.
Showing readers who struggle how to make use of
context builds confidence and competence and
teaches the inquiry process necessary to unlock the
meaning of troublesome technical and general
vocabulary encountered during reading.
Typographic Clues, Syntactic and Semantic Clues,
Logographic Cues are helpful tools to help struggling
Students pair off into groups but they complete a
sentence exercise individually and once
completed, convince their word choice is the best.
The best choice must have a reasonable defense.
OPIN reinforces the role of prior knowledge and
experiences in the decisions the group makes.
EX- Charts and graphs are used to _____ information
In addition to emphasizing context as a vocabulary
building strategy, showing learners how to
approximate word meaning through word structure is
another important aspect of vocabulary building.
A word itself provides information clues about its
meaning. The smallest meaning in a word is called
morpheme. Analyzing a words structure, morphemic
analysis, is a secondary vocabulary building strategy
that students can use to predict meaning.
The Dictionary is a Great Source for
The uses of context and word structure are strategies
that give struggling readers insight into the meanings
of unknown words. Rarely does context or word
structure help learners derive precise definitions from
When a reader doesn’t understand the meaning of a
word, the dictionary is a great resource for students.
One way to make a dictionary functional resource is to
use it to verify educated guesses about word meaning
revealed through context or word structure.
Tips for helping students use a dictionary:
Help students determine the “best fit” between a word and its definition.
If you assign a list of words to look up in the dictionary, list them
Help students with the pronunciation key in the glossary or dictionary as
the need arises.
Muhammad Haroon Baig ,Ma Tesol (Oxford),CELTA(Cambridge),MA
Eng.(Punjab),PGD TEFL (AIOU)
Ashley Hildebrant and Brittany Clawson.
Fran Lehr, M.A., Lehr & Associates, Champaign, Illinois; Jean Osborn,
M.Ed., University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Dr. Elfrieda H.
Hiebert, Visiting Research Professor, University of California – Berkeley. A
Focus on vocabulary Practices in Early Reading Series published by the
Regional Educational Laboratory at Pacific Resources for Education and
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