Literacy 4-6

Vocabulary

Factor Connections

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By building their Vocabulary, students can more easily understand what they read and write more effectively. As texts become more complicated, students' Vocabulary becomes even more critical because, when students come across unfamiliar words, comprehension can break down. Learning and using strategies for figuring out new words is a critical step to becoming a fluent reader.

Main Ideas

Vocabulary knowledge involves stored sound patterns (phonology) and mental representations of meanings.

There are several distinctions within a learner's Vocabulary:

Academic vs. Social Vocabulary

Overall, academic language uses more sophisticated Syntax and Vocabulary than social language.

  • Academic Vocabulary refers to words that are typically used in an academic setting and are not typically used in informal conversation (e.g., analysis, policy). This also includes Content Vocabulary from different subject areas like math (e.g., sum), science (e.g., chemical), or history (e.g., democracy).
  • Social Vocabulary pertains to words that are used in informal conversations (e.g., baseball, apple).

Oral vs. Reading Vocabulary

  • Oral Vocabulary refers to spoken words that are understood through listening.
  • Reading Vocabulary refers to written words that are understood through reading.

Vocabulary Breadth vs. Depth

  • Vocabulary Breadth is the number of words for which the student has at least a superficial understanding.
  • Vocabulary Depth is the extent to which the student knows word properties, including definitions, spelling, pronunciation, and syntactic and morphological properties.

Receptive vs. Expressive Vocabulary

  • Receptive Vocabulary are the words understood by the listener or reader.
  • Expressive (or Productive) Vocabulary are the words appropriately produced in context by the speaker or writer.

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