Vocabulary

Taylor Kickhaefer EDEL 461 Section C 9/10/15

The Vocabulary-Rich Classroom: Modeling Sophisticated Word Use to Promote Word Consciousness and Vocabulary Growth

By: Holly B. Lane, Stephanie Arriaza Allen

What is Vocabulary?

  • Vocabulary is the knowledge of words and word meanings
  • Four types of vocabulary
  1. Oral- words we understand when communicating orally or when someone reads aloud to us.
  2. Print- words we know when we read or write.
  3. Receptive- Words we understand when we listen or read.
  4. Productive- words that are used during speaking and writing.
  • Developing children's vocabulary is extremely important because if the words they encounter are not part of their vocabulary, the reader will not comprehend their meaning.
  • It is not only important how many word the students know but how well they know those words.

Levels of Word Knowledge

  1. Never saw or heard the word before
  2. Heard the word, but does not know its meaning
  3. Recognizes the word in context
  4. Knowing the word well

The Role of Vocabulary Learning

  • Vocabulary is one of the most critical parts in the development of reading skills and a students education. vocabulary knowledge is a good predictor of reading comprehension, reading performance, and school achievement. The more words the student understands the easier it will be for the student to comprehend a text.
  • Vocabulary instruction should be Robust Vigorous, strong, and powerful in effect. Including multiple exposures to a word teaching definitions and context, and engaging students in deep processing.

Selecting Words to Teach

A student will learn between 3,000 and 4,000 new words each year.

When selecting words to teach


  • Tier 1- basic words that most children already know and that seldom require direct instruction in school.
  • Tier 2- word that are key to comprehension and frequently used by "mature language users"
  • Tier 3- Low frequency words that are associated with specific domains or content areas.

Vocabulary instruction should be focused on tier 2 words. Tier 3 words should be taught as they are encountered.

Word Conscious Students

Students who are word conscious are motivated to learn new words and able to use them skillfully. One way to expand children vocabulary and word consciousness is to take advantage of adult-children interactions in the classroom to model the use of sophisticated language.


  • Repetition and diverse exposures to vocabulary are very important in word consciousness.
  • The more students hear, see, and engage with words the better they will know them.
  • Make connections to students prior knowledge and experiences
  • Casually introduce vocabulary (Use distribute instead of pass out or use kind, pleasant, thoughtful instead of nice)
  • Promote word consciousness through frequent and deliberate modeling of sophisticated vocabulary.
  • Create a word rich classroom by using more sophisticated modeling for students to follow.

What to Avoid in Your Classroom?

Try to avoid speaking to students using words below their level of understanding. Using Simple vocabulary is ok for initial instruction, but once students understand the basics, take the instructional language to the next level of understanding to enhance students vocabulary.

My Opinion

This article was very interesting. The article was full of good information about how to promote word consciousness in your classroom. I think that the gave great examples of how to teach vocabulary in your classroom without the typical word list and dictionary. I think that it is important for teachers to model vocabulary for their students and this article talked about the importance of using sophisticated language with students.

Discussion Questions

  1. How would you use vocabulary instruction in your classroom?
  2. How would you select vocabulary words for your students?
  3. Why is it important to model sophisticated language for your students?

Additional Resources

  • Lane, H., & Allen, S. (2010). The Vocabulary-Rich Classroom: Modeling Sophisticated Word Use to Promote Word Consciousness and Vocabulary Growth. The Reading Teacher,362-370.
  • Word Up: The Must Dos of Vocabulary Instruction
  • 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Vocabulary Instruction