Teaching Content Area Vocabulary Essay Research Paper

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Teaching Content Area Vocabulary Essay, Research Paper To be successful readers of both narrative and expository text, students must have intense vocabulary instruction. If children have a wide range of vocabulary knowledge, then they can better interpret the text they read. Because experience helps form students vocabulary base, teachers must provide these experiences, both directly and vicariously, to their students. Students vocabularies will grow if they are given many opportunities to encounter new words and are given examples of those words within their given context. (Rupley, Logan, & Nichols, 1999) Vocabulary instruction is different in reading lessons and in content area lessons. First, content area vocabulary is closely tied to the lesson, so students must

understand the vocabulary to understand the lesson. In reading, however, it is less important for students to understand the meaning of the vocabulary because they are more likely to infer the meaning from the text. Second, in content area lessons, vocabulary may or may not represent familiar concepts. Third, vocabularies in content areas are semantically related to one another; therefore, students must know all the vocabulary terms. (Armbruster, 1992) Vocabulary instruction in content areas should be an active process, where students do not merely write down definitions, but are given opportunities to work with the words to integrate them into their existing knowledge. This instruction should be teacher-directed, provide many opportunities for student practice, and provide lots

of exposure to reading and writing. (Rupley, Logan, & Nichols, 1999) There are several ways that teachers can present new vocabulary to their students. One, teachers should use students experiences as a base for the introduction of new words. By having students relate the concept to their own lives, they will be better able to remember the word. Two, teachers should use visual aids or concrete items to demonstrate unfamiliar terms. Three, if students know a related word, use that word as the base and expand until the new word is discovered. This will help students relate unfamiliar words with familiar ones. Four, teachers should demonstrate any transformations or variations a word may have. This helps students build their own concept webs. Five, if a word is sometimes used

figuratively, teachers should point this out to students. Last, teachers should model making intelligent guesses about a word s meaning from its use in the sentences. (Journal of Reading, Jan 1989) Teachers should know and use many strategies for teaching content area vocabulary. Effective strategies provide scaffolding for students to bridge the gap between prior knowledge and experiences and the content to be learned requiring students to become engaged with content. (Spor & Schneider, 1999, p.223) Several strategic methods for teaching vocabulary are available and well suited to content area instruction because they focus on the relationships among concepts. These methods include semantic mapping, semantic feature analysis, visualizing information, concept wheel, and

semantic webbing. These methods are all graphic illustrations of the concepts and their related terms, which help students build a rich semantic network of related ideas. (Armbruster, 1992) SEMANTIC MAPPING Students use semantic maps to examine a new word and map any related words and phrases that may share meaning with the new word. These maps allow students to learn the connection among several words in order to provide a clearer definition of the concept represented. (Rupley, Logan, & Nichols, 1999, p. 340) Semantic word maps group words by similar criteria such as ideas, events, characteristics, and examples and word best when teachers allow students time to brainstorm, generate a list, and participate in group discussion. (Rupley, Logan, & Nichols, 1999) Some