Reading and Vocabulary Development

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 1999 | Go to article overview
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Reading and Vocabulary Development


Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Developing a rich listening, speaking, reading, and writing vocabulary is important in all curriculum areas. In the reading curriculum, in particular, a quality vocabulary needs to be achieved by each pupil. One reason that pupils do not read well is that they do not possess a functional vocabulary for reading. Enriching and developing pupil vocabularies should be a major goal in each academic discipline.

The following are reasons for teachers guiding learners to possess a rich vocabulary: (1) subject matter and ideas are expressed with more clarity and accuracy, (2) proficiency in the work place might well depend upon individuals having a quality vocabulary, (3) individuals seemingly have more prestige if their listening, speaking, reading, and writing vocabularies are adequately developed, (4) greater enjoyment of reading is in the offing if a person has a rich functional vocabulary (5) vocabulary development is salient in problem solving. A person with a rich vocabulary should have a better opportunity to develop his/her personality, (6) conversations carried on with other persons require a rich vocabulary. There needs to be an appropriate number of words used that carry intended meanings, (7) variety in selecting words to convey accurate meanings is necessary in speaking and writing, the outgoes of the language arts, and (8) use of diverse terms and concepts in speaking and writing adds variety to quality communication. Vocabulary development becomes a tool to take in, such as listening and reading, as well as provide communication to others within the framework of speaking and writing.

The reading teacher needs to select quality objectives for pupils to achieve in the area of vocabulary development. These objectives need to emphasize what is relevant and functional. Certainly, pupils should be able to use what has been learned. Learning should not be for its own sake but rather be for personal use and application in society. Important vocabulary terms should be acquired by pupils. Adequate time must be given in choosing what pupils need to learn. This cannot be hurried, because vocabulary development emphasizes that which must be learned in depth, not survey approaches. Objectives pertaining to vocabulary development need to stress securing the interests of pupils in ongoing lessons and units of study. Ways of developing and maintaining pupil interest in learning must be emphasized. If pupils do not reveal interest in learning, they will not achieve as optimally as possible.

There needs to be objectives reflecting pupils working collaboratively. Within the cooperative endeavor, pupils listen to others and use oral communication with opportunities to achieve in vocabulary development. There are definite social goals here in that pupils need to learn to work harmoniously with others. And yet pupils also should be able to work by the self and achieve on an individual basis.

Vocabulary development emphasizes that pupils seek purpose in learning. Purposeful learning in vocabulary development means that pupils perceive reasons for achieving. I think that one cannot stress too strongly that vocabulary development for pupils should have as a goal that purpose is involved in learning. Purposeful learnings have as a goal that pupils perceive the values inherent in vocabulary activities. If these values are lacking, the teacher should stress other vocabulary development lessons for learners.

Objectives to emphasize the importance of meaningful learnings. If meaning is lacking, the chances are pupils will memorize terms and concepts for testing purposes only or largely. Meaning stresses the importance of pupils understanding that which has been learned. Use cannot be made of a new vocabulary term unless understanding of prerequisites in vocabulary terms is prevalent. With prerequisites, background information is needed to attach meaning to vocabulary terms being studied.

Objectives in vocabulary development for pupils should emphasize pupils experiencing the concept of providing for individual differences.

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