Monday, February 22, 2016

Strategy: Explicit Vocabulary Instruction

As a foreign language learner, I understand what it's like to read a passage and not recognize a majority of the words--and it's terrifying.  I firmly believe that the basis to learning another language is building a substantial vocabulary as quickly as possible.  According to an article called Effective Instruction for English LearnersCalderon says, “As many studies attest, vocabulary is the first important step toward and, indeed, the foundation of, school success for English learners and other students” (110). I am in full agreement! Vocabulary instruction will not stick if it does not span a long term where students continue to have practice in reinforcing what they have learned.
Explicitly teaching vocabulary to ELLs helps them to make connections with their prior knowledge, cement the words into their brains, and gives them examples of usage. I feel it is extremely important to teaching vocabulary in context as well--that way ELLs can see how these words are used in real sentences and texts. Some activities to supplement explicit vocabulary instruction are:

  • Using pictures/drawings to show meaning
  • Label all of the items in the classroom with their English words
  • Bell ringers!! Have ELLs keep a vocab journal where they can write sentences every day with the words and work up to writing paragraphs at the end of the week using ALL of the words.
  • Provide ELLs with supplemental readings
  • Use graphic organizers to aid comprehension
  • Pair up each ELL with a native speaker to practice vocabulary use in oral conversations

Finally, I want to point out a method that may be useful for you in dealing with ELLs or in any type of class with vocabulary teaching. This encompasses many aspects of learning, and I recommend it for any classroom. Marzano's Six-Step Process for vocabulary teaching:
  1. Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term.
  2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.
  3. Ask students to construct a picture, pictograph, or symbolic representation of the term.
  4. Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks.
  5. Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another.
  6. Involve students periodically in games that enable them to play with terms.
In the following video, Marzano's Six-Step Process is used to explicitly teach vocabulary, in context, using multiple activities and resources, and practiced over a long period of time.  I love this video, as it exemplifies everything you should strive for in vocabulary instruction!!!  (4:01 minutes long).

- Calderon, Margarita, Slavin, Robert, and Sanchez, Marta.  "Effective Instruction for English Learners."  The Future of Children.  21.1(2011): 103-127.  Web.   
- Marzano, R.J. "Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement: Research on What Works in Schools."  ASCD.  2004.  Web.  
- Photo Credit: Bigstockphoto,com, Curioso Travel Photography.
- Video Credit: YouTube = Tier Two Vocabulary Instruction.  By: SanBdoCitySchools.

No comments:

Post a Comment