1-bed, sad, fish 2-merchant, required, fortunate 3-isotope, integer, cardiovascular
Tier 2 words should be the focus of direct instruction. Tier 3 words are treated in the teaching of the specific content.
Building Vocabulary Chapter 2 Word Tiers
IntroductionEvery lesson is a language lesson regardlessof the content. Academic outcomes are hugelyinfluenced by whether language is taughtarbitrarily or with intent. The purpose of thischapter is to explore word tiers. Word tiers canguide educators in choosing target vocabulary.
Objectives Participants will demonstrate understanding of the purpose of word tiers. Participants will demonstrate understanding of Tier 1 words. Participants will demonstrate understanding of Tier 2 words. Participants will demonstrate understanding of Tier 3 words. Participants will demonstrate understanding of the overall benefits of focusing on Tier 2 words.
Word TiersThe divisions between the word tiers are notprecise. Thinking about tiers is a way to guidechoosing what words will be targeted forinstruction.(Beck, McKeown, Kucan)
Word TiersTier 1: Very basic words that rarely require direct instructionTier 2: Useful words; add quality and productivity to a student’s language abilityTier 3: Low frequency; very content specific(Beck, McKeown, Kucan)
Because we will focus on Tier 2 words, we willbriefly look at Tier 1 and Tier 3 words first.
Tier 1 WordsTier 1 words are very basic, higher frequencywords that rarely require direct instruction.bed sad These are words wehappy cold generally acquire through basicdog hot interpersonalmom hungry communication orscared drive natural exposure.
Tier 3 WordsTier 3 words are words that are context-bound,technical terms. These words are acquiredduring the learning of an academic concept. Tier3 words are tightly interwoven into the context.mitosis integer estuaryigneous genocide alliteration Tier 3 words cannot beisotope isthmus thesis separatedimperialism cardiovascular from their context.
Tier 2 Words Tier 2 words should be the focus of direct instruction. They are more precise forms of words that are already familiar, and have the most leverage in language development.
Tier 2 Words More precise forms of words that are already familiar – Maintain or sustain rather than “keep going” or “continue” – Benevolent rather than “patient and kind” – Lethargic rather than “tired” – Robust or resilient rather than “strong”(Beck, McKeown, Kucan)
Tier 2 Words Words that have leverage and power – Appear frequently across many contexts – Add to students’ language quality and productivity – Help students build connections amongst other words and concepts – Useful words; high utility(Beck, McKeown, Kucan)
Examples of Tier 2 WordsThink about how these words (and their derivatives)could be used in a variety of contexts:approach conduct approximatederive consume predict Deliberatedistribute exclude emerge instruction in how tocorrespond proportion contrast apply these wordsadjacent react retain across many contextsalternate contribute concentrate helps students buildvariable coordinate impose a web of wordacquire sequence generate knowledge, andsecure parallel capacity helps students develop a broader
Choosing Words for Direct Instruction“There will never be enough time to teach every word thatyour students will need. In fact, doing so would be boringand inefficient. Some words are easy to pick up from thecontext of a reading, a short explanation, or a translation.Others are learned through natural exposure…It takesonly a short time to explain a word, but expect to takeconsiderable time for students to practice using the word,negotiate meaning, and reflect and comment on word use.As a general rule, it is more useful to explain, recycle, andpractice a small number of well-chosen words than it is togive a longer list a quick treatment.”(Zimmerman in Word Knowledge)
Identifying Tier 2 Words Tier 2 word identification considerations: Importance and utility Instructional potential Conceptual understanding (Beck, McKeown, Kucan)
Choosing Tier 2 Words for Instruction Is the word relevant to a current topic, concept, or work of literature in your classroom? – Is the word presenting itself naturally? Is the word important to the current topic? Does the word have leverage and usefulness? – Can the word be used in other contexts? Will studying this word help students develop their overall language skills?
Effective Instruction“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.Teach a man to fish and you feed him for alifetime.” –Chinese ProverbInstead of giving students a list of words to lookup, teach them how to interact with and applywords. Those skills last longer than somememorized definitions. Chapter 3 discusses vocabulary instruction.
Summary Word tiers can be used as a guide for targeting vocabulary for direct instruction. Tier 1 words are basic words, learned through natural exposure, that rarely require direct instruction. Tier 2 words are high-utility words that can be used across many contexts. Tier 3 words are content-specific, context-bound words. Direct vocabulary instruction should focus on Tier 2 words because they add quality and productivity to language.
Further Readings Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Beck, McKeown, and Kucan Word Knowledge: A Vocabulary Teacher’s Handbook by Zimmerman Fully Grasping ‘Tier 2’ Words by Doug Buehl http://www.weac.org/news_and_publications/educ
Links• Collins COBUILD Dictionary for English Learners http://www.collinslanguage.com/shop/english-cobuild.asp• Academic Word List http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/• Visual Dictionary http://www.visuwords.com/