Vocabulary

Children who:

  • regularly use non-specific language (‘thingy, whatsit, you know’) in speaking and writing
  • hesitate in contributing a response
  • have difficulties understanding what is asked of them
  • substitute words of similar sound
  • substitute words of similar meaning
  • appear to forget new vocabulary
  • rarely participate in class discussions

MAY be experiencing problems with vocabulary.

Children who are having difficulties with vocabulary will benefit from a structured approach to TEACH them the skills to effectively organise, store and retrieve new words.

How We Learn and Remember Words

Learning vocabulary is a lifelong experience. In order to effectively process, store and retrieve words, we need to be able to use two sorts of information: semantic and phonological. Both are equally important and interdependent and need to be encouraged in children who are developing language.

Semantic

(According to meaning)

  • Category
  • Function
  • Associations
  • Similarities

e.g. helmet

  • Category: clothes
  • Function: protects your head
  • Associations: motorbike, gloves, building site
  • Similarities: hat, cap, top hat,hood
  • When you might use it: dangerous activities

Phonological

(According to the sound structure of the word)

  • Number of syllables
  • Rhyme
  • Initial sound
  • Other sounds in the word

e.g. helmet

  • Syllable: two
  • Rhyme: pelmet
  • Initial sound: ‘h’
  • Final sound: ‘t’
  • Other sounds in word: e/l/m/uh

The help that you would offer will depend upon the reason a child is having difficulty with vocabulary. There are a number of reasons why a child might have difficulty with learning words:

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