Academic vocabulary has been the buzzword in education lately. Experts agree that teaching academic vocabulary is crucial for students to access content, especially for our nation’s growing ESL population. The issue then isn’t whether to teach academic vocabulary – nearly all educators agree on its importance - but which words to focus on with teachers already so pressed for time.
Should teachers explain the difference between “affect” and “effect,” the most often-confused and frequently searched word pairing? How about “assessment” – the top-voted academic vocabulary word so far, based on a results from a recent poll conducted by Velázquez Press?
Many schools are proactively taking steps to encourage academic vocabulary learning with their students. Hollywood Senior High School in Los Angeles held their weekly Academic Vocabulary Contest this fall to encourage their ESL students to study academic vocabulary. Yucaipa-Calimesa School District, also in California, recently implemented a three-tier academic vocabulary program to help their English learners improve their test scores. San Jacinto School District makes a point to start the morning by studying academic vocabulary with their ELD students.
Teaching academic vocabulary is one of the most effective ways to close the achievement gap between English learners and non- English learners. One of the biggest ironies is that many English learners are children born and raised in the United States. Many ESL students speak English fluently, but because English is not the primary language spoken at home, they are not exposed to the academic vocabulary they need to succeed in school.
Bringing greater awareness of the importance of academic vocabulary is key. We want to hear from you. Which academic vocabulary word do you think should your students learn this year? What are some challenges you face in teaching academic vocabulary - be it lack of time or training - and what are strategies you have found to be effective? Vote for your word at www.velazquezpress.com/awoy and let your voice to be heard.