Three Tiers of Vocabulary

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Emergent Literacy Education Series 2012
Preschool Speech-Language Pathology
Emergent Literacy Mentor
York Region
Preschool
SLP Fact Sheet: Three Tiers of Vocabulary
Speech &
Language
Program
Tri-Regional
Infant
Hearing
Program
Tier 3:
These words are not often used. These words are specific to subject areas and need
direct teaching in context (e.g., isotope, chlorophyll, phonology)
Tri-Regional
Blind-Low
Vision Early
Intervention
Program
Tier 2:
These words occur across various environments and are highly used by mature
speakers. They need direct teaching (e.g., satisfy, hunger, absurd, nature). NOTE:
These words are a more precise or complex version of the more familiar words.
They are not just synonyms.
Tier 1:
These words form our basic vocabulary and are highly used by all speakers. They do not
typically require direct teaching unless there is a speech and language delay.
(e.g., car, ball, happy, house, run, big)
**Tier 2 words have been linked with having the greatest impact on a child’s later
reading and writing skill development, overall academic achievement, and job success.
Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing Words to Life: Robust vocabulary
instruction. New York: The Guilford Press.
A member of the Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe York
www.beyond-words.org