Bridging the Gap: Vocabulary Instruction to Acquisition

Bridging the Gap:
Vocabulary Instruction
to Acquisition
Barb Rupert
Franklin Pierce Schools
[email protected]
Hey that’s me!
I love my job!
I used to love my job, but now I’m really tired.
I work primarily at the elementary level.
I work primarily in post-secondary.
I work with middle school or Jr. High aged kids.
I work with high school students.
I mostly work with adults.
I deserve a raise!
I’ve read a great book recently.
Hey that’s me!
I have children at home.
 I have an “empty nest.”
 My children at school are enough!
 I love to travel.
 I am invigorated by teaching.
 I am constantly challenged by my job.
 I think I found my calling.
 I need a vacation!
Teaching is more
challenging than ever
Changes in classroom dynamics
 Challenge to meet the needs of diverse
 Accountability for learning for all
 Focus on learning (acquisition) vs.
Why vocabulary?
Single most important tool for
 Empowers the language student
 Helps to develop cerebral flexibility
 Goal is automaticity for greater ease in
Learning wires the brain
Bridging the gap
between instruction and acquisition
 Practice
 Assessment
Vocabulary presentation
‘Chunk’ the information (7-12 words at a time)
Present in multiple learning modes
Involve questions: The brain is more receptive to
questions about new knowledge than it is to
answers (Jensen)
 Create Context
– Associate directly with meaning
– Avoid translation
– Use visuals and examples
 Create contexts (families, airplane, paper dolls, props)
 Scavenger Hunt
 Labeling Activities
Scavenger Hunt
First time they get the written words for parts around
the school
Be clear about expectations.
Work in teams with a deadline (it’s a ‘race’).
Give the labels to people ahead to put up in the morning
(Email reminders are good!)
Each team has a differently ordered list and a blank map
to label.
Examples of clues:
The secretaries answer the phone here.
This is where sick students rest.
Students eat lunch here.
We play football here.
The librarian helps the students in this place.
Students do science experiments in this room.
Connect to prior learning
Knowledge Rating
 List-Group-Label
 Think Pair Share
 K-W-L
Knowledge Rating Scale
Create a KRS with 8-10 key words from section
of text.
Give students a copy.
Read each word aloud and have students
indicate their knowledge level.
Divide into mixed ability pairs or groups to
share. Teach them to use the text for context or
as a resource.
Call on students to complete the chart with the
class with definitions or pictures.
Make it relevant
Be clear about the purpose
 Make it personal
– T charts of likes/dislikes (food, weather,
– Top 10 (Have them rank chores, activities,
classes, small groups discuss)
Hook into emotional pathway
 ‘Begin with the end in mind’
Factors for Learning
 Frequency
-Arendal & Mann
– Frequency for competent learners
 4-14 repetitions to learn
– Frequency for challenged learners
 250-350 repetitions
– Practice makes perfect
Cross training
– Connect to other skills and content areas
Activities to increase frequency
Hot or cold
 Fruit basket upset
 Body ball
 Counting (pronoun bubbles)
 Flashcards
Fruit basket upset
Chairs or desks in a circle, one fewer than the
number of participants
Each player has a picture or object representing
vocabulary words
Must have at least three participants with the
same picture
The person in the middle calls out an object,
those participants change chairs
The person left calls out another item or items
Trade items after a few rounds to practice new
El cubierto
Fruit basket upset
el plato
el cuchillo
la cuchara
el tenedor
la servilleta
Body Ball
Trace or project a human sized body
 Two teams compete
 Name the body part to be hit
– Two points for direct hit
– One point for hitting body, but not part
– Negative point for repeating
Use nerf or skwoosh ball to avoid
annoying colleagues
Novelty and Variety
Students are volunteers
 Learning must be engaging
 Use All-respond strategies
– By definition, if you are calling on a child one
at a time, they are not engaged
Provide novelty and variety
– Fortune tellers
– Hillarium
Create decks of cards with matched pairs of the
written vocabulary words in target language.
Shuffle the cards and deal them all out to
students (4-8 in a group)
Students begin acting out vocabulary words
using gestures and sound effects but no words
Students who think they have a match, hold up
their cards to check
Object is to find matches for all of your cards
Vocab words in target language
Eat pizza
Play guitar
Win games
Drink soft drinks
Friends laughing
Traditional music
Barking dog
Dance the macarena
Eat cake
Blow out candles
Strategies for Practicing
Wait time
– “Slowing down may be
a way of speeding up.”
–Mary Budd Rowe
Focus time
 Think time
 Exit slips
 Journals
– Pictogramas
– Illustrations
Four corner reflection
 Choice 
Recoding activities: Students take
information and make it their own
– Categorizing vocabulary (grouping clothing by season,
activities by who does them, etc.)
Personalizing vocabulary
 Connecting (to a paperclip or a tree)
 Creating an image
– El cuerpo de arte moderno
Creating symbols, songs or movements
 Writing sentences, stories, etc.
Remember to reinforce!
Give feedback to the students to help
prevent misinformation from being stored
in the long term memory
 When possible, use modeling vs.
 Use the information from formative
assessments to inform instructional
Strategies for reinforcement
Provide positive reinforcement; it has the
most profound effect on brain chemistry
 Keep reinforcement focused
 Consider learning styles
 Monitor and graph results
More practice activities
Put it to rhythm or song
 Other graphic organizers
 Homework and practice
 Mnemonics
– Acronyms
– Acrostics
Strategies for Review
Match review to instruction and
 Review systematically over time, not just
before the test
 Pop quizzes are good for students
 Review can be fun
– Jeopardy
Our brains will logically access memories
that are useful, that have been repeated,
and that require the least effort.
– S. Pinker
Retrieval is the ability to access stored
memories and use them to solve
You can only recall information that has
been stored. Cramming doesn’t pay.
 Eustress vs. test anxiety
 Match instruction, practice and
assessment for maximum performance
 Provide balanced assessments
 If they don’t know it, reteach the critical
Brain Based Learning
“The brain is not designed for
continuous learning. In fact,
learning is more likely to become
permanent when we pause, reflect
and process what we encountered.”
Amazing Brain Facts
Eric Jensen