Vocabulary Instruction

Vocabulary knowledge is the strongest predictor of reading comprehension. Four kinds of vocabularies contribute to reading comprehension: core vocabulary, academic words, content-area words, and literary words. TextProject provides free resources for all four types of vocabulary .

Research A focus on vocabulary

The Core Vocabulary

The core vocabulary consists of a relatively small number of English words that accounts for the majority of all words in books from grades K to 12. About 4% of the different words in schoolbooks account for at least 90% of all of the words in school books. Automaticity in reading the core vocabulary is the foundation of proficient reading. TextProject provides free resources to support students in automaticity in recognizing and understanding the core vocabulary.

Research The Core Vocabulary: The Foundation of Proficient Comprehension

Core Vocabulary: Word Zones

The core vocabulary consists of 5,586 words. When root words that share endings (-ed, -ing, -s, -es) are grouped together, the number falls to 4,000. When words that share prefixes and suffixes (e.g., un-, -ful) are included, the number is even smaller: 2,500. The core vocabulary can be grouped into five word zones of frequency. (Remember that this list is intended for use by teachers, not for students to memorize.)

Core Vocabulary Word Maps

A word map is a graphic organizer that supports connections among vocabulary and ideas. TextProject provides Word Maps for the Core Vocabulary-the most important words in written English. Three types of words maps are available for the core vocabulary: synonyms, morphology, and multiple meaning of words.

Resources Core Vocabulary Word Maps by grade level and subject

Core Vocabulary Word Pictures

The core vocabulary consists of the 4,000 simple word families which account for 90% of the words in written English. Function words (e.g., the, of) and general academic words (e.g., compare, relate) are prominent in the core vocabulary but there are also many concept words which can be pictured.

Resources Core Vocabulary Word Pictures by concept group.

Academic Vocabulary

Academic vocabulary words are important in school and scholarly texts. Words such as connection, composition, and system are unique to school texts and are not used frequently in common conversations or simple text. Academic words are used to describe and explain ideas in content-area texts but are not the words that communicate the substance of a content area. For example, system might be used to describe weather but is not a word specific to the topic of weather.

The Academic Word List (AWL) has been used in numerous studies. Of the 570 words on the AWL, 343 are in the Core Vocabulary Word Zones.

Literary Vocabulary

Literary words are the verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs that authors use to make their stories come alive. High-quality stories are distinguished in their authors’ use of expressive words—gambol rather than run or cavort rather than jump. TextProject has two programs of free, comprehensive lessons that help students use knowledge of familiar words (e.g., stop) to learn the Tier 2 words of texts (e.g., flee, abscond).

Research Growing Capacity with the Vocabulary of English Language Arts Programs: Vocabulary Megaclusters

E4: Exceptional Expressions for Everyday Events

Word maps of Tier 2 words are provided for familiar and frequent words in students’ lives: quiet, think, and want. In all, E4 provides 32 free lessons that include English-Spanish cognates, morphological family members of root words, and synonyms.

Resources Complete Exceptional Expressions Edition or individual lessons

S4: Super Synonym Sets for Stories

Tier 2 words are used by authors to create the details and mood that engage readers in a story. Free lessons are provided for 20 of the most important ideas in stories—Tier 2 words representing emotions, traits, movement, and communication.

Resources Complete Super Synonym Sets Edition or indivdual lessons

Content Area Vocabulary

The Content-Area Word Pictures depict imageable concepts that are essential to specific content areas.