Literacy PK-3

Systems Change

Factor Connections

Hover to see how factors connect to Vocabulary. Then click connected factors to explore strategies related to multiple factors.

Helping students build their Vocabulary helps them understand what they are reading. When readers come across unfamiliar words, comprehension breaks down. Learning strategies for figuring out new words is a critical step to becoming a fluent reader. Young children's Vocabulary also supports more automaticity when spelling words.

Main Ideas

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

There are four distinctions within a learner's Vocabulary.

  • 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 words' properties, including definitions, spelling, pronunciation, and syntactic and morphological properties.
  • Receptive Vocabulary are the words understood by the listener.
  • Productive/Expressive Vocabulary are the words appropriately produced in context by the speaker.

Typically, Vocabulary growth is relatively slow until a learner has 50-100 Productive/Expressive Vocabulary words, usually at the end of the second year of life. At this point, a sudden jump in development ("vocabulary spurt") is common where learners add 10-20 new words per week.

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