Vocabulary learning is the foundation for learning a language. Research of education shows a strong relationship between vocabulary and intelligence, reading comprehension and the general ability. As the children learn how to read, they also need to develop a strong word knowledge base in order to ensure they make sense of what they decipher. Below is a vocabulary development matrix, which demonstrates teaching strategies for vocabulary development.




Differentiating instructions for special needs student

Vocabulary self-collection strategy

In this strategy, students are engaged in identification of key words from readings which they share with the fellow members of the class. Students identify new and intriguing words from their readings, use resources and context to define the word, and nominate the words to be learned by others in the class.    

The teacher will organize students into small reading groups. After introducing the reading book overview, students need to demonstrate competency in nomination of words, identification of their meaning from the dictionary and to use them by accurately writing a sentence. 

Teachers need to offer guidance to students with special needs through the provision of mini-lessons on word identification skills, ways to use context to guess the word meaning as well as the use of resources such as graphics, pictures, diagram and glossary. 

Word mapping

Word mapping strategy helps the student to gain a deeper understanding of the vocabulary through the depiction of various relationships between the words. This strategy is essential, because it engages students in thinking critically about the word relationship hence promoting active word exploration and deeper understanding among students.  

Students need to demonstrate their ability to identify words that are vital to understand in the text. Students should also demonstrate competency in the construction of word maps, and building and exploration of word relationships.                

During learning, teachers need to provide individualized assistance to readers with special needs by helping them to identify word relationships and expanding their vocabulary meaning. Teachers should also encourage students to use individual maps as a resource in their writing.

Graphic morphemic analysis

This strategy helps learners in unlocking the meaning of new and challenging vocabulary by analyzing meaningful parts of words. Morphemic analysis strategy helps students to use visual analysis of the word to construct and deconstruct the meaning of the word from contextual meaning and word relationships. 

Students need to show their ability to identify words from selected reading, they should also demonstrate competency in the examination of word parts and eventual determination of their meaning. Students should be able to detach the word prefix when examining parts of the word in order to identify the meaning of the word.

Teachers need to show the special need students how to look for the root words and affixes within the word. Teachers also need to modify the lesson in order to teach students with special needs on the way to build new words by adding suffixes and prefixes to the root words. 

Interactive word wall

This strategy stimulates classroom environment that is rich of vocabulary. The classroom wall is usually adorned with new and interesting vocabulary, which students learn when reading. This strategy encourages students to use the word on the wall in their writing and reading.

Students need to demonstrate competency in spelling and writing the words on the wall legibly, they also need to show proficiency in application of wall words as a reference in their writing.

The teacher should ensure that special needs students benefit through repeated exposure to the wall words. Teachers also need to assist students in developing personal and a portable word walls.        

Vocabulary journals

Journals are essential in assisting students in exploration of the meanings of words they encounter while reading. These journals are logs where students record their information and ideas about new words they learn from the textbook and other readings. Students use journals to explore word meaning by making essential connection with the new words and their own experiences they already know.

Students should be able to create their own vocabulary journals, in which they need to record new words ideas and experiences for future exploration. Students also need to demonstrate competency in identifying the meaning of a word by making ideas connect with their previous noted experiences.

The teacher needs to demonstrate to the special need students on how to organize a journal, and how a vocabulary journal can be an essential source of vocabulary understanding. The teacher also needs to help the student in identifying a word as well as the word meaning form various sources other than journals.

Pre-teaching vocabulary words 

This is an effective strategy for vocabulary development that is intended to help children learn new words. The adult teacher teaches unfamiliar vocabulary used in text previous to the reading experience. This particular strategy allows children to progress their understanding of these new terminologies that are the words’ denotation and connotation. Proper discussion with children provides the teacher or the adult with the feedback about how well children understand the vocabulary. After the child has fully comprehended the meaning of these terms, it can now read the text noting new words in the text and understanding how they have been used.  

In assessment, a teacher or a parent can design a test after every reading, where the child is made to construct meaningful sentences using the vocabulary learnt. The teacher can also gauge children by identifying their recognition abilities. The teacher creates a list of the learnt words with their meaning on the other side of the paper. The teacher will then ask children to connect the words with their correct meaning.                            

Vocabulary development through pre-teaching strategy for English language learners with special needs is a serious matter, because they have deficits in their vocabulary, and they are not in a position to comprehend vocabulary at once. It thus becomes crucial for the teacher to differentiate pre- teaching strategy for these children. To ensure that these children also acquire new vocabulary through this strategy, the teacher or adult should take advantage of the child’s first language, teach the meaning of some basic words before coming to complex vocabulary and, finally, the teacher should focus on reinforcement and review

Intentional vocabulary teaching 

In this strategy, children are explicitly trained both word learning and specific word learning strategies. To develop vocabulary understanding among children, they are made to understand vocabulary in rich backgrounds provided by authentic texts rather than remote vocabulary drills. These guidelines go beyond definitional understanding in that it does not begin with description for the ability to give a description is often the result of knowing what a particular word means.  

Informal assessments of this strategy include the ability of children to use the newly learnt vocabulary in speaking. Assessment can also be done by the ability of students to use dictionaries correctly to find the meaning of these words. 

Word learning in this strategy can be differentiated for special needs students or English language learners by ensuring that English language learners who share cognates with English are aware of the cognates.

Multiple exposures in multiple contexts 

Another strategy of vocabulary learning is giving multiple disclosures to a vocabulary meaning. Exposing  learners to multiple words expand their knowledge of words. They are then made to identify any new words which the teacher explicitly explains to the whole class.

This strategy can be assessed by the ability of children to use the learnt vocabulary in their compositions and speech.

English language learners or special needs students should be given more support by the teacher. The teacher can repeatedly read to the students while they identify any new words. The teacher then explains these new terminologies or vocabulary to these students. 


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