- Build In Opportunities to Talk
- Model Conversation
- Use Complex Language and Vocabulary
- Try It
- Wrap Up
- academic language: the language of instruction—specific words children learn related to subjects such as math, science, art, and so on.
- language/linguistic development: the process of developing language skills to understand when others speak (or use sign language) and to speak (or sign) and engage in conversation
- open-ended questions: questions that require critical thinking, invite opinion or explanation, and have the potential to result in a multipl-word answers
Use Complex Language and Vocabulary
Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.
Through language, people share ideas, solve problems and conflicts, cultivate relationships, and learn new things. As children’s language abilities grow, they use fewer one-word labels and express themselves in more complex language constructions. This growth is essential—children with deep and broad vocabulary become better readers, writers, and communicators. You can foster this development by exposing children to complex language and vocabulary.
- Offer new words that children can use to grow their vocabulary.
- Incorporate interesting and complex language. Children need to hear sophisticated words and be prompted to use them in their own speaking vocabulary. For example, say, That is a gigantic cloud! Look at this miniature pony. This looks like a ferocious lion.
- Provide “child-friendly” definitions of complex vocabulary and encourage children to use the words in their speech. For example, say, Now we scatter the tiles. That means we mix them up.
- Encourage children to define words on their own when possible.
- Use academic language—the language of instruction. As they study subjects like math, reading, and science, children will need to learn these words (e.g., longer, higher, more, fewer, predict, add, follow, alphabet).
- Chart children’s progress over time. As children grow, so do the number of words they use in a sentence. A child who might once have said only “My truck” can grow to use a more complete sentence: “I made a picture of a truck.”
In this video, you’ll see the educators model how to use complex vocabulary and expanded sentence structures. As you watch, look for effective strategies used by the educators in the video and jot down answers to this viewing question in your Learning Log.
- What strategies do the educators use to help children expand their vocabulary?
Why do children need to hear adults use sophisticated language?
- Children with deep and broad vocabulary become better readers, writers, and communicators.
- Children can often understand complex words that are not yet in their speaking vocabulary.
What strategies can educators use to introduce complex vocabulary?
- Flood the environment with talk to help them learn new ideas and express themselves competently and confidently.
- Model the use of new words that children can use to describe their world.
- Incorporate interesting and complex language into daily talk. Children need to hear these words and be prompted to add them in their own speaking vocabulary.
- Provide simple, easy-to-understand definitions of vocabulary and encourage children to use the words in conversation.
- Ask children to define words. Children often pick up the vocabulary of their peers and hearing another child’s definition can have more meaning.
- Use read-aloud books to teach new vocabulary and to help children discover the meanings of the words they hear.
- Use academic language (the language of instruction) to familiarize children with words they will encounter as they learn more math, reading, science, etc. (e.g., longer, higher, more, fewer, predict, add, follow, alphabet).
- Ask open-ended questions to prompt children to think deeply and critically and to encourage multiple-word answers. These questions begin with words like what and how and usually cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” (What do you predict will happen when we put the snow in the water? What might happen when you put another block at the top?)
- Prompt children to talk with peers. (Samantha has a great way to find her boots. Ask her to tell you what she does.)
Think about the learning environment in your own program as you answer these reflection questions in your Learning Log.
- What strategies do you use to expose children to complex language and vocabulary?
- What did you learn that you will take back to your learning environment and put into practice?