Teach Tier 2 words for reading comprehension
We know that vocabulary is one of the five elements that make a fluent, confident reader. These five are: phonics, phonemic awareness, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency.
While phonics and phonemic awareness are the bedrock of reading that allows children to decode words accurately, the other three are intertwined. If you have a good vocabulary you will be able to comprehend words the you can decode, and as a result read more fluently. At the same time, fluent and frequent readers encounter and learn new words that build their vocabulary which leads to greater comprehension which leads to even better fluency. So, the cycle of more reading – more vocabulary – more fluency – more reading etc…. benefits good readers. Children who come from language-rich homes have an advantage because once the foundations of reading are established, they use their vocabulary to soar and fly. This has been described at the ‘Matthew effect’ based on a biblical story that describes the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Children who are good readers become better and more fluent readers and the gap between them and poor or infrequent readers grows.
How can we bridge the vocabulary gap of children who have poor vocabulary or, who don’t read enough to acquire new vocabulary? The answer is that we need to vocabulary explicitly. The vocabulary needed in school is divided into three Tiers:
Tier 1: everyday language, e.g. ‘baby’, ‘hungry’, ‘home’.
Tier 2: academic vocabulary used across the curriculum, e.g. ‘expand’, ‘comply’, ‘restrict’
Tier 3: vocabulary which appears in specific curriculum areas, e.g. ‘photosynthesis’, ‘molecule’, ‘tundra’
How can we accelerate the learning of vocabulary to support reading?
One effective way is to teach vocabulary through morphology and etymology. We teach groups of words that are related in meaning. This will help children to comprehend and spell many words in the curriculum. It will also show them how to use this approach to tackle new words they have not encountered before.
We have made some free charts to help you teach with approach. As you can see, it is still important to teach children how to split long words into syllables so that they can read and spell them. Then we can analyse the morphemes (units of meaning) in the words.
Check out these free graphics:
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