Vocabulary Instruction Research

Research on vocabulary instruction concludes that most vocabulary is learned indirectly. This is an often underemphasized area in the classroom as most of our focus is on direct vocabulary instruction.

Direct vocabulary instruction is the method in which children aquire vocabulary during formal instruction. This learning takes place through direct and explicit instruction during whole or small group. We do an excellent job with direct vocabulary instruction through our core reading program, but we are limited to the number of words that children can be explicitly taught. The research does state that some vocabulary must be learned in this manner.

When you hear the term indirect vocabulary learning, think about the vocabulary that children hear when they are being read to. Most importantly think about the vocabulary that children are exposed to when reading “Just Right” books on their own. Indirect vocabulary is also the vocabulary that children gain through converstations with adults.

We as educators need to think about ways to increase the volume of reading so that our students can achieve optimal results from both direct and indirect vocabulary aquisition. What are some methods that you are using to increase the volume of reading in your elementary classroom?

About Tara Baldwin

My name is Tara Baldwin, and I am the Elementary Program Area Specialist for the Shelby County School System. I have been in education for 28+ years. I have a Bachelors degree from Jacksonville State University in Early Childhood Education and a Masters degree from the University of Montevallo in Early Childhood Education and Educational Administration. Prior to beginning my current position I served as the reading coach at Valley Elementary School in Shelby County. I also have teaching experience in kindergarten, first and second grades. Most of my work has been in the state of Alabama, but I also have two years of experience in the state of Mississippi. In this position I am able to work with our wonderful reading coaches, and I have a close relationship with our Alabama Reading Initiative team. I am also most fortunate to work closely with Reading/Language Arts teachers and the principals in our district to provide the highest quality curriculum and instruction to our students.
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