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Guiding Questions What is vocabulary? Why should I teach vocabulary? How do I choose words to teach? What are some effective vocabulary teaching strategies? What are some activities that support vocabulary learning?

[RELO] Teaching Vocabulary

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Presented by English Language Fellow Ryan Brux.

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Page 1: [RELO] Teaching Vocabulary

Guiding Questions

What is vocabulary?

Why should I teach vocabulary?

How do I choose words to teach?

What are some effective vocabulary teaching strategies?

What are some activities that support vocabulary learning?

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VOCABULARY:Words or multiword units

that have a common meaning.

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Types of vocabulary


Hence, moreover


He takes on the challenge.

Test tomorrow! Time to hit the books.

I’m feeling really beat. I need some java!

‘She passed away.’ (instead of ‘she died’)

microwave, human

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Effective Vocabulary Teaching

takes place in a language & print rich environmentmakes explicit the meanings of unfamiliar words and

concepts that are essential for understanding textmakes explicit independent word-learning strategiesnurtures and promotes a word-consciousness culture

- an understanding of, and interest in, words, how they are used, and their importance to learning and communicating.


Explicit (Def.) – Stated clearly and in detail

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Look familiar?

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Useful Expressions

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What words do I choose to teach???

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4 levels of word knowledge

• 1. I never saw it before. • 2. I’ve heard of it, but I don’t know what it

means. • 3. I recognize it in context – it has something

to do with… • 4. I know it!

Dale and O’Rourke (1986)

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Choosing Which Words to Teach

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Create A Word Splash –

Go to www.wordle.net/create. Insert your text into the box. Click submit.

Your WordSplash is created! Larger words indicate words that are used more frequently throughout the text.

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Word Tiers (Beck & Mckeuen)Tier 1 •Basic (Simple)

•Concrete•Appear commonly in spoken (oral) language




Tier 2 •Abstract•Academic•Occurring frequently in written language, the workplace, and in everyday life




Tier 3 •Content specific•Occurring mainly in academic texts; not occurring frequently in everyday life

Photosynthesis Trapezoid


Focus Instruction on Tier 2


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----Your Turn----

Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in thevalleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastalpart of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with theseaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as theLima Metropolitan Area. With a population approaching 9 million,Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Peru, and the fifthlargest city in the Americas.

Read the following short passage.Identify some Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3



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How Did You Do?Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3




Explicitly teach these words.

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Many Spanish and English words have Latin or Greek roots and the same meaning; these words are called cognates.

Hmmmm…..This word looks like a word in my language.

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tráfico traffic

balcón balcony

mapa map

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For a great list of English/Spanish Cognates…


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“I have loved chocolate for as long as I can remember. I love how it melts in my mouth and makes me feel so happy.”

A sweet substance, usually brown in color, produced from the cacao plant.

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Vocabulary Journals

Students create a personal referenceSelect how it will be organized• Alphabetical• Subject Specific• General/Technical• Social/Academic

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Word Experts

Each student is assigned 2-5 words from a new unit or chapter.Each ‘Word Expert’ constructs a card (definition, part of speech,

illustration)Students take responsibility for learning these words – and

teaching them to their peers.Students exchange cards with their peers.

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Three Questions (Wolters, 2010)

Help students understand words on a deeper level by asking them to answer three questions:

• What is it?• What is it like?• What are some examples?

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Morphology:Putting the Pieces Together

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1. Some words can be divided into parts which still have meaning (bookshelf = book + shelf)

2. Many words have meaning by themselves. But some words have meaning only when used with other words (unloved = un + love + ed)

3. Some of the parts into which words can be divided can stand alone as words (lovely) But others cannot (lovely)

4. These word-parts that can occur only in combination must be combined in the correct way (lovely not lylove)

5. Languages create new words systematically

Some observations about words and their structure:


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AdjectivesDog PlayBigEat



ConjunctionsInOnOf Thebut

-s (plural)‘s (possessive)

-er (comparative)-est (superlative)

-s (present)-ed (past)

-en (past part.)-ing (present part.)

Prefixes & SuffixesUn- (not)Dis- (not)

Pre- (before)-en (made of)

Latin & Greek rootsAudiAuto


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Compound Words

Earache = ear + ache (2 morphemes) Def: a pain in the ear

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Most Frequently Used AffixesPrefixes Suffixes

Prefix Meaning

Dis- Not, opposite ofIn-, im-, il-, ir- notRe- againUn- notOver- overEn-, Em- Cause toMis- wronglyInter- Between, among

Pre- beforeSub- under

Suffix Meaning

-ed Past tense verbs-ing Present participle-ly Characteristic of-s, -es More than one-er, -or One who

-en Made of-able, -ible Can be done-ion, -tion, -ation Act or process-ity, -ty State of-ic Having characteristics of

The four most frequent prefixes and suffixes (bolded) account for 97 percent of prefixed and suffixed words in printed school English.

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Wooden(2 morphemes)

Wood + en (made of)

Definition: Made of woodThe wooden rocking horse was one of the best

Christmas presents he could remember.

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Reheated(3 morphemes)

Re + heat + ed (again) (past tense)

Definition: to have heated againAfter Sue came home late for dinner, Mom reheated

her plate of food in the microwave.

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Unlikable(3 morphemes)

Un + like + able (Not) (can be done)

Definition: ________________________His reputation for being a bully made him very


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Unlikable(3 morphemes)

Un + like + able (Not) (can be done)

Definition: Not able to be likedHis reputation for being a bully made him very


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Challenge: antidisestablishmentarianism

anti + dis + establish + ment (against) (not) (to set up) (act of doing something)

+ arian + ism (believer) (the belief in)

Let’s find the meaning one step at a time…

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establish - to set up, put in place, or institute

dis-establish - to end the established status of a body, in particular a church

disestablish-ment - the separation of church and state

anti-disestablishment - opposition to separation of church and state

antidisestablishment-arian – one who is opposed to the separation of church and state.

antidisestablishmentarian-ism - the movement or ideology that opposes the separation of church and state.

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Sounds Latin to Me!

Many words (English and Spanish) are derived from Latin or Greek.

By knowing what some of these terms are, you can figure out the meaning of words.

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Common Latin & Greek RootsLatin Roots Greek Roots

Root Meaning

Audi HearDict SpeakPort CarryRupt BreakScrib/Script WriteSpect SeeStruct BuildTract Pull, drag

Vis See

Root Meaning

Auto SelfBio LifeGraph Written or drawnHydro WaterMeter Measure

Ology Study ofPhoto LightScope SeeTele Distant

The four most frequent prefixes and suffixes (bolded) account for 97 percent of prefixed and suffixed words in printed school English.

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MorphologyMorph + (o)logy

Definition: Study of a word’s form or structure

Morph =



logy = ‘study of

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AutobiographyAuto + bio + graph + y

Definition: An account of a person’s life, written by that person.

Auto =


Bio = ‘life’

Graph = ‘written’

y (suffix) =

‘Characterized by’

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PortablePort + able

Definition: ___________________________________

Port =

Carry-able (suffix) = can be done

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PortablePort + able

Definition: able to be carried or moved

Port =

Carry-able (suffix) = can be done

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The number of times that a student needs to encounter a word for them to ‘know’ the word.

When students see a word repeatedly, they gather more information about that word how it is used, etc.)Knowing a Word: It’s all about seeing it. Using


8-12 times

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Project and Activity-Based Learning

Using vocabulary from a unit on technology to write newspaper editorials on Cyber Bullying

Using vocabulary from a unit on “personal information” to create a walking gallery of portraits of famous people

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Games• Hand out pre-printed Bingo

grids• Students fill out the unit’s

vocabulary words in any pattern on their papers (practice writing/spelling)

• Instead of saying the word, pantomime, show, draw, or give a verbal description (synonym)

***More Student-Centered: Have individual students describe the vocabulary word (practice in describing, using synonyms)

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Photo Scavenger:Fun With Vocabulary

a yellow banana a fast-moving river a village resident a white cloud a beautiful flower a tall tree a 4-legged animal an old bridge a dirt road a green plant an example of deforestation a relaxing place•


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Extensive Reading

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References and Resources5 Great Vocabulary Graphic Organizer (VVWA,

Frayer…more!) • http://voices.yahoo.com/5-best-vocabulary-graphic

-organizers-11449572.html?cat=4Cognates• http://www.colorincolorado.org/pdfs/articles/cogn

ates.pdf• www.spanishcognates.orgSuffixes and Prefixes• http://teacher.scholastic.com/reading/bestpractice

s/vocabulary/pdf/prefixes_suffixes.pdfLatin and Greek Roots• http://www.asdk12.org/middlelink/LA/vocabulary/


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Ryan Brux – English Language Fellow, Tarapoto, [email protected]