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February 06, 2011

Accelerating Vocabulary Development

There are many ways to help students acquire and expand their vocabulary. I focus on root words, prefixes and suffixes. But how does a teacher accelerate vocabulary development? My personal philosophy is that we can learn from...

...anyone. In this post I want to consider what we can learn from kindergarten teachers.

You might not think of it immediately, but kindergarten teachers work directly with language acquisition and expansion.

SERVE is a program centered at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Their work is wrapped around literacy and academic success - especially for those who do not have a family or personal history of success in the academic world.

These can be students of all ages - from kindergarten to high school - but the goal is the same; successful completion college. This is a priority across the six Southern states the program serves. These states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Whatever age you work with, I'd encourage you to poke around their website. They have a wealth of resources to share.

For guidelines, strategies and some success stories, take a look here - http://www.serve.org/default.aspx.

For a list of their publications, look here - http://www.serve.org/publicationslisting.aspx.

For some of their stories - both challenging and triumphant - look here - http://www.serve.org/Stories-from-the-Field.aspx.

I have worked with at-risk or marginalized students for many years and at many different levels. Every student is different, every family, every school and every neighborhood has its own dynamics and priorities, but student difficulty and even failure have the same feel, almost the same atmosphere. It's not that these students are not smart. It seems that somehow they don't know HOW to learn. Or at least they don't seem to understand how their teachers EXPECT them to learn.

That is where programs like SERVE come in. I'm just thankful they are willing to share their resources!

Send us any links or other resources that you think any teachers, students or even just normal people might find interesting or useful. Let us all know about words that make you crazy, aspects of language and expression you find challenging, and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, USA and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle, WA, USA). Morf is currently a radio host (http://www.tacoma.fm/) and a newspaper columnist.

Posted by mmorf at February 6, 2011 10:23 PM


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