Highcliffe Learning Hub

Matthew II – Raising Literacy (Blog 2 of 3)

Posted 01/11/2017 13:15:15 by mmortell

Following on from our previous post about literacy, a snippet of which is below, this blog attempts to answer the question of how we can improve students’ vocabulary.

This means that for a student bought up in a word-rich environment, he not only hath, but will go on to exponentially receive in abundance.
This For a child bought up in word-poor environment, he not only hath not, but further opportunities for development will be diminished.


How can we address this? What can we do to improve our students vocabulary?

Vocabulary is divided into three tiers:

Tier 1 vocabulary is the vocabulary that all students have and is high frequency in speech:

table, chair, happy, fair

Tier 2 vocabulary is more sophisticated and is high frequency in writing:

gregarious, beneficial, required, maintain, appreciative*

Tier 3 vocabulary is domain specific:

osmosis, trigonometry, onomatopoeia

We all know tier three vocabulary needs addressing, so we explicitly teach it. But what about tier 2 vocabulary? It is this tier of vocabulary that students are frequently lacking.

This leads to an odd situation. In a recent class, I had a group of students who could all, dutifully and correctly, identify, explain and pronounce the subject keywords of personification¯ and conjunction¯. However, when I suggested a particular poem gave expression to the futility of war¯, the students looked at me blankly: they didn't understand the Tier 2 word futility.

Being word-poor in Tier 2 vocabulary hampers progress in a number of ways. It hinders comprehension of more complex texts and speech. Furthermore, in so far as thoughts are dependent on words, it hinders students ability to express themselves in a more sophisticated, nuanced, and academic manner.

So having just congratulated ourselves on teaching tier 3 vocabulary, it is time to consider how we can develop tier 2 vocabulary in our students. The result of this will be that even to whosever hath not¯ it shall not be taken away. Or to rephrase in tier 2 vocabulary: Even for whosoever does not possess it shall not be removed.

In our final post we explore some quick and easy things you can start doing right away to improve vocabulary.


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