Teaching 50,000 words

The importance of vocabulary, the number of words pupils need to learn, and the additional challenges some children face mean that teachers need powerful vocabulary programmes. Michael Graves, Diane August, and Maria Carlo describe four components these should include

WE BEGIN THIS EXAMINATION OF WHAT we know about teaching vocabulary with three basic facts, facts that testify to the importance of providing pupils with a powerful and multifaceted vocabulary programme. These are: the importance of vocabulary; the number of words pupils need to learn; and the vocabulary deficit of some children. Following this, we describe the components of such a programme, and some special considerations for pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL).

What we know
● Children learn words at a rate of 3,000–4,000 words a year.
● Vocabulary programmes must provide rich language experiences and direct instruction in vocabulary and word-learning strategies.

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February 2011