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Teaching VocabularyVocabulary instruction -- the teaching of words and word meanings -- albeit neither an art nor a science, is a subject that garners copious research and spurs much discussion and probably an equal amount of debate. Whether teaching native speakers or ESL (english as a second language) students, there are common key components proposed for effective vocabulary teaching programs. Professionals in the field promote (1) extensive independent reading; (2) instruction in specific and basic words; (3) instruction in word-learning strategies, including dictionary use, morphemic analysis (deriving a word?s meaning by analyzing its parts) and contextual analysis (inferring the meaning of an unfamiliar word by scrutinizing the text surrounding it; and (4) fostering an awareness of and interest in words and using word consciousness and word-play activities that receive review and reinforcement. Vocabulary-teaching programs also emphasize providing multiple exposures to a word?s meaning, which demands repeated exposure to the word in different contexts. In other words, ?seeing vocabulary in rich contexts provided by authentic texts, rather than in isolated vocabulary drills, produces robust vocabulary learning.? The use of the word ?robust? above should not be overlooked. Robust vocabulary instruction is not simply providing definitions; it actively engages students in ?using and thinking about word meaning and in creating relationships among words.? If a teacher wants to deepen students? knowledge of word meanings, he/she must craft robust specific word instruction. Additionally, it is in the word-learning process that the teacher is committed to restructuring learning materials and strategies to provide easy-to-grasp-and-follow instructional tasks. Teachers working with english Language Learners (ELL) or english as Second Language students (ESL) can take advantage of the student?s first language if the language shares cognates with english. Other strategies that appear to be especially valuable for building the vocabularies of ELL and ESL students include teaching the meaning of basic words and providing sufficient review and reinforcement. Studies suggest that most vocabulary is acquired incidentally through indirect exposure to words. Teachers contribute to their students? progress via oral language experiences in the classroom, including reading books aloud and playing audiotapes. They also recognize ?independent ?reading as invaluable word exposure and promote providing/using rich context provided by authentic texts as opposed to created materials. The National Reading Panel (2000) suggested restructuring vocabulary tasks to reflect its findings, which are as follows: ? Intentional instruction of vocabulary items is required for specific texts. ? Repetition and multiple exposures to vocabulary items are important. ? Vocabulary learning should entail active engagement in learning tasks. ? Computer technology can be used to effectively to help teach vocabulary. ? Vocabulary can be acquired through incidental learning. How vocabulary is assessed and evaluated can have differential effects on instruction. ? Dependence on a single vocabulary instructional method will not result in optimal learning. John J. Pikulski and Shane Templeton in their 12-page essay Teaching and Developing Vocabulary: Key to Long-Term Reading Success, add another layer to vocabulary instruction. They acknowledge that people use and understand several vocabularies, which fall into four distinctions: expressive ? vocabulary we use when we speak and write; receptive ? vocabulary we use when listening and reading; meaning/oral ? vocabulary we use when listening and speaking; and literate/written ? vocabulary we use when writing and reading. They predicate that ?people who have large speaking vocabularies generally tend to have large listening, reading, and writing vocabularies; likewise people who are limited in one of these aspects are likely limited in other aspects as well? Fostering improvement in one aspect has the potential for fostering improvement in another. Therefore, one responsibility of teachers is to help students transfer vocabulary skills from one form to another. ? They do, however, conclude that people tend to have larger literate/written than meaning/oral vocabularies because the written language is more formal, complex and sophisticated than the spoken language. Fortunately, their approach to teaching vocabulary embraces components previously discussed while also elaborating on or emphasizing such additional new ones as: ? Provide direct instruction in the meanings of clusters of words ? Systematically teach students the meaning of prefixes, suffixes, and root words. ? Link spelling instruction to reading and vocabulary instruction ? Teach the effective, efficient, realistic use of dictionaries, thesauruses, and other reference works. In summation, technology or more specifically, the Internet, vastly contributes to the teaching of vocabulary. For every level of student there are vocabulary lists, methods and practices, and exercises and activities available on the Internet. I found of particular value Joseph Pettigrew?s Teaching Vocabulary: Two Dozen Tips and Techniques (http://people.bu.edu/jpettigr/Articles_and_Presentations/Vocabulary.htm).