If you’re going to focus on just one thing when it comes to embedding literacy into your trades or vocational training it has to be vocabulary.
Vocabulary runs through all of the literacy progressions and it’s probably the best bang for your buck in terms of time spent embedding anything on the literacy side of things.
If your learners have a basic vocabulary of 2,000 high frequency words, it’s likely that they can understand roughly 80% of the words in an academic text.
But they need to know around 95% of the words in a text before they can successfully guess the meanings of unknown words and actually make sense of a text.
The best way to get started with embedding vocabulary is to develop your own Word Banks that are focused around very specific content areas that you have to teach. Here I’m particularly talking about aspects of your teaching or training programme where there are a lot of academic, specialised, or technical words.
Once you have a Word Bank for a particular chunk of teaching, there are all sorts of things you can use it for. This includes:
- Creating mini vocabulary diagnostic assessments for pre and post testing of learner knowledge
- Creating all kinds of fun activities to teach and practise the language.
More on that in another post still to come.
So here’s how you go about creating the Word Bank. Think in terms of the following three categories and follow the instructions below:
- Everyday Words
- Academic Words
- Specialised or Technical Words
Everyday Words – Step 3 on the Vocabulary Progression
- List the high-use, everyday words that relate to the content you intend to teach.
- You can include some less common words as long as they don’t belong in the Academic or Specialised lists.
- You can include words from the second thousand (2K) word list.
Academic Words – Step 4/5 on the Vocabulary Progression
- List the academic words you need for the content you intend to teach. Think of words that describe processes or academic tasks.
- You can include some of the high-use specialised words you need.
- And you can include words from the academic word list (AWL). Highly specialised or technical words should be in the list below.
Specialised Words – Step 6 on the Vocabulary Progression
- List the more highly specialised and technical words you need for the content you intend to teach.
- Think of the jargon of your trade or content area including specialised acronyms and informal language.
- You can include words outside of the 1K, 2K, and AWL.
Here’s a handy worksheet you can use to do all of this. It’s the same as the image above. I suggest you print it out A3 size or as large as you can. Click the download link below: