Why Vocabulary Development is Important
As students move through their school years they are required to know, use and spell an increasing number of words and terms.
Vocabulary knowledge is one of the greatest predictors of reading comprehension, while students who know more words read and write better than those whose vocabulary is limited. Time spent on developing students’ vocabulary is time well spent.
All too often vocabulary development is overlooked, and it is left to students to pick up new words and their meanings in an ad hoc way. This is despite the requirement for students to work out the meanings of unknown words under test and examination conditions. In many school subjects, students are required to use words and terms for many abstract and challenging concepts.
Considering that students must be exposed to a word or term at least a dozen times before they can confidently use it in their writing, vocabulary development through activities that are relevant and subject specific should be a vital part of your lesson plans.
While time should be spent on more comprehensive activities to foster a deep understanding of words and terms, you can increase the amount of time students spend reading, writing and building their vocabulary by adding warm up exercises, or hooks to each lesson.
Adding five to ten-minute activities to the start of a lesson can help students switch into learning mode. These activities can also help with:
- Moving key facts and figures from short-term to long-term memory
- Activating prior knowledge about a topic (where prior knowledge exists)
- Awakening interest in the topic of the lesson
- Checking for understanding
- Improving a variety of skills
- Developing learning strategies
- Improving vocabulary
- Developing collaborative learning strategies
Importantly, lesson hooks can easily increase the amount of reading and writing students are required to do which helps develop their vocabulary in all areas of the curriculum.
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