The very last reading component is vocabulary. Reading Rockets defines vocabulary as, "the knowledge of stored information about the meanings and pronunciation of words necessary for communication." I personally find vocabulary the hardest component to teach. I don't really use too many different vocabulary words when I communicate, even though I understand the meaning of most vocabulary words I read in texts. It's just challenging for me to teach vocabulary and it can be a bit daunting. However, vocabulary development is an essential component of reading comprehension.
Vocabulary development is one of the greatest challenges for English language learners and students living in lower socioeconomic environments. Holmes Tutoring uses a great ESL Library for students participating in ESL/Language tutoring (More information about the ESL Library and all it has to offer can be found on the "Features" page of the website). I like to pre-teach vocabulary words before beginning a leveled text or a literature study. There are so many great vocabulary resources found on the "Teachers Pay Teachers" website that coincide with popular literature studies. Finding picture cards or videos of vocabulary words to show my English language learners is what I found to be the most beneficial to them retaining information.
My heart goes out to students in lower socieconomic environments. According to Psychology Today, children who grow up in poverty are exposed to 30 million fewer words compared to their wealtheir companions. This is better known as the, "vocabulary gap." The latest research indicates that vocabulary development begins in infancy. Parents and caretakers who talk to their infants and toddlers, as well as read books aloud to them, greatly increase the likelyhood of richer language development for those children.
I love the quote, "childhoold socioeconomic status is not destiny." Yes, there is a direct link to poverty and low vocabulary, but this is primarily because of the lack of knowledge and resoruces people have who live in poverty. There are so many free resources including audio books, free books, and videos that can help close this achievement gap. This is applicable for younger learners as well as for those in grade school.
Vocabulary, just like all of the other essential components of reading, must be explicitly taught to students. Good instruction include the teacher properly pronouncing the vocabulary words and teaching the meaning of the words in context. Just giving students a dictionary to define new words is not best practice. There can be several different meanings for one word and students need help initially distinguishing the words needed to understand the text at hand.
Teaching students how to use context-clues is another way to help with vocabulary. When students are taught to explore the text, looking at illustrations, bold print, italics, and genre, it can significantly help them be more active in learning and retaining the meaning of unfamiliar words.
The last, and in my opinion the most important, way to help with vocabulary development is to start early. Read and speak to your child as much as possible. Young minds are like sponges. Younger children catch on to new words and phrases much more quickly than older children. This is why teaching a second language to children is best when started early. Learning a language is at its peak during the infant to 6 year old stage of human life.
To sum of this series of the five essential components of reading, I want to heavily emphasize the extensive research done in this area. No, not all research is created equal, but there has been undeniable success seen in student performance across the nation when these best practices are put into place. I have other blog posts centered around cities using the science of reading to drive their instruction and the success rate of their students. At Holmes Tutoring, direct instruction research-based teaching methodologies and materials are used consistently and in a sequential order to help students. Feel free to contact me by text, phone call, social media, or email to book your free consultaion today. I'm looking forward to seeing you in my virtual classrom =)
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