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Academic Vocabulary

"Academic vocabulary is vocabulary that frequently appears across academic disciplines but rarely occurs in oral conversation. Academic vocabulary is critical to understanding the concepts of the content taught in schools. Academic vocabulary exposes students to word origins, multiple meanings of words, and references to abstract concepts that relate and connect directly to targeted content areas."

Before I started explicitly teaching my students 'academic vocabulary', I noticed that many struggled with understanding what they were being asked to do more than with the task itself because they were unfamiliar with words like analyze, convey, determine, etc.

Five activities that I found helpful for making academic vocabulary a part of the classroom culture and familiarizing students with some of the terms they might encounter in text and work instructions include:

1) Keeping a chart paper poster with academic vocabulary words and definitions visible in the room. Words are added to the chart as they come up in lessons and are often referred to.

2) Directly teach academic vocabulary and related words: analyze, analyzed, analysis

3) Explore the morphology and etymology of words.

4) Encourage students to use the words in their verbal and written responses across the curriculum.

5) Use vocabulary flashcards for word work in centers. Create posters, bulletins boards, or flashcards using academic vocabulary or:

Click on the link above or the images below.

Use them for:

  • word of the day

  • bulletin board display

  • centers

  • study cards


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