Robust Vocabulary Instruction means providing models of the right way to use words, together with repeated practice that lets children hear and use the new words in a variety of contexts. Robust Vocabulary Instruction aims to expand a child’s number of words (breadth of knowledge) as well as their understanding of those words (depth of knowledge). The goal is for children to be able to understand the word (e.g. show me …), name the word (e.g. what’s this?), tell you about the word (e.g. what is a…?) and use the word in a sentence.
The Vertim Vocabulary resources take a Tiered Vocabulary Instruction approach, and is based on the work by Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown and Linda Kucan. The resources aim to enhance children’s vocabulary learning, in the context of book sharing with adults – specifically, picture books for preschool-aged and early primary school-aged children. “Tier 2 Words” have been selected from each text for direct teaching as these have been found to be the most beneficial. Tier 2 words are words which:
- occur frequently
- are more advanced and/or specific than Tier 1 words (e.g. big, chair, walk)
- are likely to be unfamiliar to a child but the concept of the word is understood
- have instructional potential, that is, need some explanation to communicate
- are used in a variety of situations and contexts
The Tier 2 words are therefore repeated before, during and after the book is read. Introducing the words before the book makes unfamiliar words available for children when they do hear them during the story and helps to ease any difficulties in understanding. The repetition is critical for children to understand, learn and retain a word so that they can eventually use it.