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.
When looking up the meaning of a term such as , a bilingual youth may very well encounter an unfamiliar word in the native language.
Simply copying a translation does little to promote reading comprehension.
These dictionaries are also easier for students to utilize than collegiate dictionaries because the entries are printed in a larger type size and include useful and obvious signposts to guide them in identifying the proper entry.
A final advantage is that many learners' dictionaries may be purchased in book form, along with a CD-ROM providing pictures, audio, and pronunciation of headwords.
Students with weak lexical skills are likely to view all new words as equally challenging and important, so it is imperative for the teacher to point out those words that are truly vital to a secondary student's academic vocabulary base.
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.
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.
Reviewing the research literature on vocabulary instruction leads to the conclusion that there is no single best strategy to teach word meanings but that all effective strategies require students to go beyond the definitional and forge connections between the new and the known.
Nagy The following section will explore some practical strategies that secondary teachers can employ to increase the integration, repetition, and meaningful use of new vocabulary.