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Kevin Feldman A Rationale Directly Addressing Vocabulary Development What Doesn't Work? Strategies for Conceptually Challenging Words Authentic Assessment of Vocabulary Mastery Summary References state, "The relation between reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge is strong and unequivocal.This chapter will describe some of the most practical and effective strategies that high-school teachers can employ with diverse learners to enhance vocabulary development and increase reading comprehension.Without training and guidance, less proficient readers and English language learners are apt to encounter numerous difficulties as they struggle first to locate and then to effectively navigate a lengthy dictionary entry.
Unfortunately, teachers who gravitated toward English instruction, in great part out of a passion for language and literature, may find all words of equal merit and devote too much instructional time to interesting and unusual, yet low-frequency, words, that a less prepared reader is unlikely to encounter ever again.There are a number of traditional teaching practices related to vocabulary that deserve to be left in the "instructional dustbin." The key weakness in all of these practices is the limited or rote interaction students have with the new word/concept.Let us quickly review the most common of these less effective approaches.English learners may carry a bilingual dictionary, but this resource is generally inadequate for several reasons.First, long-term bilinguals or more recent immigrants with disrupted educational histories may have limited academic vocabulary in the home language.To benefit from an array of synonyms, a reader must operate from a solid academic vocabulary base.Less proficient English users will generally have no ability to gauge contextual appropriateness and will end up infusing their written work with glaringly inappropriate word choices.Further, the small bilingual dictionaries carried by secondary students offer limited and often inaccurate definitions.An electronic dictionary may be equally unproductive for a bilingual or less proficient reader tackling grade-level curricula, as it tends to offer scant definitions and no contextualized example sentences.Developmentally-appropriate lexical resources are fundamental to providing all students, regardless of their level of English proficiency or literacy, with greater access to grade level competencies and curricula.A democratic language arts classroom, marked by cultural and linguistic diversity, must include considerately chosen and manageable dictionaries for less proficient readers, to enable them to develop more learner autonomy and to assist them in completing independent writing and reading tasks.