Academic Vocabulary

Tips for Teaching Academic Vocabulary

What is Academic Vocabulary?

At a very basic level we define academic vocabulary as the vocabulary that is critical for students to understand the concepts of the content taught in schools.  It is vocabulary that supports student comprehension of instructional content.

How do you teach academic vocabulary?

It is best to teach academic vocabulary in context.  So, rather than teach vocabulary lessons in isolation, teach words connected to ongoing curriculum.  Connect it to thematic units you’re using or the units/lessons in your textbooks. Many educators across the United States are using the six step method for teaching academic vocabulary.  Following is a summary of the six steps. 

  • Step 1: Introduce Vocabulary

    The teacher:

    -- Provides explanation, description or example

    -- Finds out what student knows

  • Step 2: Restate Meanings

    --Students write and restate in their own words the meaning, explanation, example

  • Step 3: Draw/Create Visuals

    --Students make their own picture, graphic representation


    *Picture of an actual object

  • Step 4: Activities

    --Have students participate in classroom activities regularly

  • Step 5: Vocabulary Discussions

    --Provide students with opportunities to discuss the terms with each other


  • Step 6: Word Play

    --Give students a chance to participate in games




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