Improving Vocabulary at the Secondary Level: History, Literature, and Findings

Improving Vocabulary at the Secondary Level: History, Literature, and Findings

Sylvia Bull (Educational Testing Service, USA) and Shelley B. Harris (Texas A&M University – San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9953-3.ch011
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Abstract

This chapter explores the need for valid and reliable vocabulary instruction at the secondary level. As climate and demographics continue to change the education landscape, there will be a continued need for further research on best practices for vocabulary. Currently, students' vocabulary knowledge at the secondary level is lacking, specifically in the content areas, and teachers need instructional strategies that they can put into practice. The research currently available indicated this is an important subject and support for instruction is needed. Therefore, this chapter proves there is such a need.
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Statement Of The Problem

At the secondary level educators have been tasked with not only delivering content for that area, but also ensuring that the content specific vocabulary needed to comprehend and be successful is taught. Research has shown that gaps in reading performance are often associated with the gaps in vocabulary, yet there is little attention to developing language in most schools (Scott, Jamieson-Noel, & Asselin, 2003). With this new era of high stakes testing, educators are pressured to raise test scores and passing rates, but are receiving limited instructional support to make this happen. Educators are left trying to find effective strategies and best practice activities to use in the classroom that will have a positive impact on their students.

The purpose of this chapter is to explore current strategies for teaching vocabulary in the classroom. As a result of the extensive research on vocabulary instruction, this article addressees the following questions:

  • 1.

    What research based methods are proven effective to teach vocabulary?

  • 2.

    What effective instructional methods are utilized by educators to teach content specific vocabulary?

Understanding the answers to these questions will help educators support all students, specifically the struggling readers in their classroom.

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