Vocabulary Acquisition: Processes & Examples

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  • 0:00 Vocabulary Acquisition
  • 0:53 Pronunciation
  • 1:43 Definition
  • 2:41 Use
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

The three steps to learning new words is shown in this video lesson. You will see examples of activities that you can do in the classroom to help you teach your students new vocabulary and learn things to avoid when teaching vocabulary.

Vocabulary Acquisition

Vocabulary acquisition is the process of learning new words. An adequate vocabulary is necessary for academic success. Just think about what would happen if a student didn't know the words that are written on his test. Would he be able to give the right answers? Probably not, if he doesn't even know what the question is. So, you, as the teacher, have the very important job of teaching him the vocabulary he needs to succeed both in the classroom and beyond. How can you do this? You'll need to create a list of words that are essential for your students to know academically and subject-wise. Break them down into groups of several words to teach each week. Once your list is ready, then you're ready to move onto the three essential components of vocabulary acquisition that you must incorporate into your activities. Let's take a look at what they are and what kinds of activities you can use to teach these components.

Pronunciation

The first component of assisting students with vocabulary acquisition is that of pronunciation. The student needs to know how to pronounce or say the word correctly. To help teach this component, you can have the student repeat after you several times, and then have the student say the word independently several times. For younger students, you can break up the word into its syllables and say the word slowly while pointing to each syllable. Doing this also helps teach younger students how to break up bigger words so they can read them.

An important note here is that just because a student knows how to pronounce or read a word does not mean that he or she necessarily understands the word. It is important to avoid assuming that your students know a particular word. Stick to your list, and teach all the words with equal care.

Definition

Once your students are able to pronounce and read the word easily, then you can move on to defining the word. Use a definition that your students can understand. You don't have to use strict dictionary definitions. Use accessible language suitable for your students to define the word. It is always best to keep it simple. You can use flashcards with pictures to help you define words. If the word is an action word, you can have the students get up and physically perform the action. You can also provide an example sentence showing how the word is used. The best example sentences are those sentences that your students can relate to. If you are using the word 'masticate,' for example, you would probably want to use the sentence 'John took his time masticating his pepperoni pizza because he wanted to enjoy it as long as he could,' instead of 'John inhaled his escargot instead of masticating it.' Your students are more likely to relate to the first than to the second.

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