Teaching Academic Vocabulary

Teaching Academic Vocabulary

Academic language is often the language used in classrooms to demonstrate the understanding of a particular subject. Now, this language may include two components: the instructional language which is the textual clues to back the analysis and make the learner understands and the other would be the language of the discipline i.e. terms that are specific to a particular discipline. It is a meta language and contains list of around 50000 words that the learners are expected to have internalized by the time the high school ends.

To develop academic vocabulary, an ideal way to begin is with high frequency words such as Justify, paraphrase etc. which are helpful in processing of academic tasks. Learning academic language requires learners to move away from social language with a simplistic grammar to a more sophisticated grammar. However, this doesn’t mean totally abandoning the social language as it is important for social bonding and facilitating cooperative learning.

Following tips and strategies can be adopted by the teachers to develop a sound academic vocabulary among their students.

  • Encourage Reading

The more the students read and the more the diversity in their reading, greater will be their vocabulary and facilitate development of academic language.

  • Summarising

Students should be asked to read a paragraph or a section of text and then verbally summarize the text to another student. Or else, filling the blank spaces to complete a sentence frame would also be effective in developing academic vocabulary

  • Translation from social language to academic language and vice versa

Students can be given to translate or paraphrase a section of text in conversational language to a more formal academic language or a difficult academic text to be rewritten using everyday language.

  • Academic Routine Scripts

Some sentences are very often used in academic language. While for adults, it may seem obvious and very easy, for young students such vocabulary might be overwhelming. They can be given task to complete sentences which are often routine in academic sphere.

  • Repeat the same word

By repeating the same word and exposing the students to the word regularly, they will internalize the word. Also, if the teacher uses the word in an interesting manner, they will retain the word longer.

  • Transition Handout

Students should be provided with transition hand outs so they can look into it and frame sentences which fit the handouts. Handouts include words lie On the contrary, Furthermore, namely etc.

  • Learn similarities and differences

Asking students to carefully differentiate between words and also list out similarities will rapidly develop their vocabulary.