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Vocabulary Builders: Helping Young Learners Improve their Vocabulary Skills

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    Vocabulary Builders: Helping Young Learners Improve their Vocabulary Skills

    Vocabulary Builders: Helping Young Learners Improve their Vocabulary Skills
    Admin - Jan 19 2016

    Strong vocabulary skills are the foundation to successful reading comprehension. Research has shown that kids who have weak vocabulary when they enter kindergarten are more likely to struggle when learning to read. Kindergartners will learn about 3,000 new words in a single school year so it is imperative for any educator to help young learners learn as much vocabulary skills as they need to be successful.

    The National Reading Panel identified four types of vocabulary:

    1. listening vocabulary
    2. reading vocabulary
    3. writing vocabulary; and,
    4. speaking vocabulary

    vocabulary_games_kidsA student develops vocabulary indirectly through listening, speaking and reading. Teachers can help students develop their vocabulary skills by providing direct instruction based on on the use of effective vocabulary building strategies. Here are some helpful strategies for building vocabulary skills.

    • Do not rely on definitions alone. Words should be written and used in a conversational manner rather than teaching it through the standard dictionary format. Teachers can use associations to everyday things or life experiences to teach the meaning of the word. Students should be encouraged to draw a picture or dramatize the word.
    • Read aloud. Children love hearing stories. Storytelling is one of the most effective strategies to help them build their language skills. The vocabulary used in stories is more diverse than those used in conversational speech. Teachers should take the time to explain the meaning of unfamiliar words while reading stories. Do not hesitate to pause the story and explain an unfamiliar word. Discuss the context of the new words so that young learners can use the clues in the stories to reach an understanding of what the new words mean.
    • Use vocabulary terms repeatedly and in different contexts. Keep repeating new words to help children internalize them. Practice new vocabulary words and use them in everyday situations. Use flashcards with new words along with pictures that show their meaning and post them in the classroom. Encourage the students to use vocabulary words into art projects by drawing the meaning of the words they are learning.
    • Play games. Young learners love games. Effective vocabulary instruction can come from using games that increase vocabulary knowledge. For example, a card game can be used to to review vocabulary words that were used in a previously read story:
    1. Choose 11 vocabulary terms that were used in the story. (You may vary the number of terms later on for other stories when the mechanics of the game becomes clear).
    2. Prepare 12 flashcards.
    3. Write the vocabulary terms on one side of 10 of 12 cards.
    4. On the opposite side, write a definition that does not define the word on the other side.
    5. Write a vocabulary term on one side of the 11th card but leave the opposite side blank.
    6. On the 12th card, place the definition of the vocabulary term written on the 11th card.
    7. Distribute the first 11 cards to the students and keep the 12th card with the definition.
    8. Read the definition.
    9. The student with the corresponding vocabulary term should come to the front and read the word. He or she should then read the definition on the other side of the card and the student with the term matches the definition should come to the front, read the word on the card and then the definition on the opposite side.
    10. Continue the process until all the words and their definitions have been read.

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