This is part seventeen of my blogging challenge.
As a veteran teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of doing things a certain way just because I’ve done them that way for years, without remembering the reason why.
I’ve decided to set myself a blogging challenge – reflect on one tip from each of the 18 sections that compose Penny Ur’s latest book: “100 Teaching Tips”, so as to dust off old practices that may have remained unexamined for too long.
Tip Number 89: “Teach a lot of vocabulary”
* Note: I was sorely tempted to reflect on all the tips in the vocabulary section, but a rule is a rule…
I love it when practices we recommend for teaching Deaf and hard of hearing students are recommended for everyone.
Sight words are words you understand right away without the need to decode. Check out this quote from the book (page 106): ” It appears that a large sight vocabulary …is the main condition for successful reading comprehension”. When you have words at your disposal that lead to meaning effortlessly, you can focus on the content of the text must more efficiently.
The thing is, the sight vocabulary needs to be large. Even students with normal hearing cannot pick up enough vocabulary based on incidental learning and by seeing words in context in books. Vocabulary has to be taught and practiced. A lot!
Vocabulary flashcards rock!
They will “rock” even more if you include collocations!
Especially god for pair work – an opportunity for students to be teachers too. Meanwhile you, the official teacher, can work with someone who needs extra help.
The only caveat is the issue of general knowledge. The students have to have a reasonable grasp of the concepts the words denote. Otherwise the ability to quickly translate the words into their mother tongue does not contribute to reading comprehension.
Which may sound extremely obvious to you.
Unless you are working with Deaf and hard of hearing students…
(For more information on that issue, see the post on the Q/A blog: Translating words into L1 isn’t always helpful. Why?