Word Consciousness

Another strategy for vocabulary instruction in older learners is supporting their awareness of how word parts affect meaning.

Learning prefixes, suffixes, and roots is a concrete manner in which to build a student’s vocabulary.

Vocabularians (2015) offers a number of effective strategies for learning and remembering morphology (p. 84-87). Likewise, as the Concept of Definition Map can support a student’s understanding of multiple word applications, as can a Semantic Feature Analysis.

Used during pre-reading, this is a research-based strategy helps students identify the important features of words:


Activities like these offer students more information about a word than just the definition, which will help them acknowledge and internalize that words have more than one meaning, depending on the context.

Context Clues

All students, regardless of their learning style, need to be explicitly shown how to derive meaning from context.

Teachers can guide students to notice that an author often provides the definition of the word in the latter part of the sentence.

Students need to be taught that authors will use a word, then provide a synonym of the word, often following “and,” or simply restate the word’s meaning in a follow-up sentence.

Likewise, teachers should point out that when providing an antonym for a vocabulary word they have written, authors often use a “contrast” signal word to denote the relationship.

Many students do not pick up on these “tricks of the trade” without the teacher pointing them out.

However, once revealed, students can remember and use these clues to their advantage.

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