When Choosing Vocabulary to Explicitly Teach Teachers Should Consider Which of the Following?


When Choosing Vocabulary to Explicitly Teach, Teachers Should Consider Which of the Following?

Vocabulary development is a crucial aspect of language learning in any educational setting. As teachers, it is essential to carefully select the vocabulary we explicitly teach to our students. However, with an overwhelming number of words to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which ones to focus on. In this article, we will explore the factors teachers should consider when choosing vocabulary to explicitly teach.

1. Relevance to Learning Goals:
The first consideration when selecting vocabulary to teach should be its relevance to the learning goals of the lesson or unit. Teachers should ask themselves, “Will this vocabulary help students understand the main concepts or themes we are covering?” By aligning vocabulary instruction with the learning goals, teachers ensure that students acquire the language they need to succeed in their academic endeavors.

2. Frequency of Use:
Another factor to consider when choosing vocabulary is its frequency of use. Teachers should prioritize teaching high-frequency words that students are likely to encounter in various contexts. These words are often referred to as tier two words, which are found across different domains and are critical for understanding complex texts. By explicitly teaching these words, teachers equip students with the tools to comprehend a wide range of materials.

3. Difficulty Level:
The difficulty level of words is an important consideration when selecting vocabulary to teach. Teachers should strike a balance between challenging students with new words and ensuring they can grasp their meanings. It is advisable to introduce a mix of familiar and unfamiliar words to build upon students’ existing knowledge while expanding their vocabulary. Teachers can use strategies such as providing contextual clues, using visuals, or offering simplified definitions to support students’ understanding.

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4. Transferability:
When choosing vocabulary, teachers should also consider its transferability. Transferable words are those that can be applied across different subject areas or contexts. These words provide students with a broader understanding of language and help them make connections between various domains. By explicitly teaching transferable words, teachers foster students’ ability to use language flexibly and adapt to different learning environments.

5. Student Interest and Engagement:
Engaging students in the learning process is crucial for effective vocabulary instruction. Teachers should consider students’ interests, background knowledge, and cultural relevance when selecting words to teach. By incorporating vocabulary related to their hobbies, cultures, or personal experiences, teachers can enhance student engagement and motivation. This approach also promotes a deeper understanding and retention of vocabulary.


Q1. Should I only focus on teaching content-specific vocabulary?
A1. While content-specific vocabulary is important, it is equally essential to teach words that have broad applicability. Including high-frequency and transferable words ensures students can understand and communicate effectively across various subject areas.

Q2. How can I assess students’ vocabulary knowledge?
A2. Assessing students’ vocabulary knowledge can be done through a variety of methods, such as quizzes, vocabulary journals, context-based activities, or oral discussions. Ongoing formative assessments help teachers identify areas for further instruction and monitor students’ progress.

Q3. How often should vocabulary be explicitly taught?
A3. The frequency of explicit vocabulary instruction depends on the students’ proficiency level and the depth of the content being covered. However, it is recommended to integrate vocabulary instruction regularly throughout lessons, reinforcing previously taught words and introducing new ones.

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Q4. Should I teach vocabulary in isolation or within context?
A4. Teaching vocabulary within context is more effective than isolated instruction. By providing meaningful examples, real-world situations, or authentic texts, students can better understand and retain new words. However, occasional explicit instruction can be beneficial for learning specific words that may not naturally arise in context.

Q5. How can I make vocabulary instruction more engaging?
A5. To make vocabulary instruction engaging, teachers can incorporate various activities, such as word games, role-plays, multimedia resources, or collaborative tasks. Using technology, visual aids, and real-life connections can also enhance student interest and motivation.

In conclusion, when selecting vocabulary to explicitly teach, teachers should consider its relevance to learning goals, frequency of use, difficulty level, transferability, and student interest and engagement. By carefully choosing words that meet these criteria, educators can support students’ language development, improve comprehension, and foster a love for language learning.