Vocabulary refers to one’s knowledge of words. It is broken up into oral (speaking), understanding (listening), and print. It is crucial for speaking, listening, literacy, and for learning new concepts. In most instances, decreased vocabulary development can limit and interrupt a child’s learning experience. And while it can grow naturally from daily reading and conversations, depending on the sophistication of these interactions, it is just as important to explicitly teach and expand vocabulary knowledge.
A strong vocabulary is crucial to a student’s success in reading and in school for the following reasons:
There is also a strong correlation between vocabulary and reading comprehension as both skills are necessary for reading success but depend on each other. Word meanings make up a large part of comprehension, some scholars believe as high as 70 to 80%. In addition, students with large vocabularies do well across all areas of the curriculum and are able to absorb new concepts more easily with important skills with the new common core curriculum.
The English language has an expansive vocabulary. It is estimated to have 250,000 distinct words with three times as many distinct meanings. A rich vocabulary is the hallmark of a well-rounded student. We are not dictionary-haters, but some students need explicit instruction. We want kids to be self-reliant so they can effectively transfer their mastery of words and their meanings to reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
We work with students with decreased vocabularies compared to peers, and we work with students who have word-finding difficulties. Our vocabulary tutors use a variety of effective techniques in our tutoring, with in-depth procedures, using listening, speaking, and written contexts to help vocabulary development. Before you know it, you won’t even know what your child is saying, in a good way.
Several strategies include word mapping (graphic display of word/concept relationships), word substitution (teach new words related to the word found in story, etc.), semantic relationships, e.g. How are the words and related, discussion of words in a text, incorporating strategies students can use independently, expanding and deepening student’s knowledge of word meanings, acting out meanings, focusing on word structure (root words and derivations), reflective pausing, imagery and gesture cueing, and mass practice.
Our tutors utilize explicit teaching methods such as pre-reviewing difficult words, repeated exposure to vocabulary in text and word maps. We also use implicit teaching methods by helping children build their context skills to master more vocabulary.
Read about Early Childhood Developmental Milestones.
Aside from students with decreased vocabularies compared to peers, some students have what is called word-finding difficulties. These students often have trouble retrieving words more frequently than would be expected despite good comprehension of these words. Problems in word-finding can manifest in single-word retrieval or discourse contexts.
Single-Word Retrieval: This refers to difficulties in accessing specific words like nouns, verbs, adjectives, and numbers. At school, a student with word-finding challenges may have trouble answering questions that need particular information or specific facts. When trying to access words, a student may be:
Discourse Retrieval: Trouble with discourse retrieval is characterized by difficulties in conversation and relating experiences and events. When speaking, a student’s speech will often be short or have behaviors associated with word-finding difficulties. These include repetitions, revisions or reformulations, substitutions, insertions, empty words, time fillers, and delays.
Word-finding difficulties are particularly common in students who have:
For middle school and high school students, having a strong command of vocabulary is even more important as they tackle writing requirements, such as book reports, creative writing, and essay writing,
At Staten Island Letters, we use explicit teaching methods, such as pre-reviewing difficult words, repeated exposure to vocabulary in a text, and word maps to help students of all ages. We also use implicit teaching methods by helping children build their context skills.
Get in touch with us today to find the perfect tutor for your child!