Teaching 50,000 words

The importance of vocabulary, the number of words students need to learn, and the additional challenges some children face mean that teachers need powerful vocabulary programs. Michael Graves, Diane August, and Maria Carlo describe four components these programs 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 students with a powerful and multifaceted vocabulary program. These facts fall under three categories: the importance of vocabulary; the number of words students need to learn; and the vocabulary deficit of some children. Following this, we describe the components of such a multifaceted program, and some special considerations for English-language learners (ELLs).

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

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February 2011