Repetition is Key! Working Towards Multiple Exposures of New Vocabulary

Anyone over 25 can surely remember making vocabulary flash cards, writing words over and over to learn the spelling, and generating example sentences to try and cement the meaning of new words. Today’s students have an endless supply of mobile vocabulary flash card apps to choose from, so they don’t have to carry around a lame pile of colored index cards. Regardless of the medium the method of repetition to learn new words is not likely to fade anytime soon, nor should it according to mounds of research

In a recent article in Education Leadership, Lawrence at al. explained that, “Probably the most consistent finding related to good vocabulary instruction is that students need multiple exposures to a word to learn it well.” The National Institute for Literacy has also highlighted the importance, noting that, “Once vocabulary words have been selected, teachers should consider how to make repeated exposures to the word or concept productive and enjoyable.” Ensuring that the multiple exposures are significant and engaging is an important priority for teachers, and fortunately there is a plethora of interesting and exciting ways to reinforce new words.

Here are some ways to support multiple exposures of new vocabulary:

  • Make a lesson on www.lessonwriter.com and get a lesson with up to seven different exposures to new vocabulary. The pre-teach vocabulary section gives instructors an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary via whole class or small group instruction. Then students encounter the vocabulary in the context of the passage and in three separate reinforcement exercises (fill-in-the-blank, matching, and write your own sentences). Teachers can also easily create flash cards and word searches from these vocabulary words.
  • Try bringing flash cards to the next level. Have students go beyond the word and definition to also include lists of examples and non-examples. Ask them to draw a simple picture that reminds them of the new word or connect the word to a physical action.
  • Use concept maps to help students activate schema and build connections to new words.
  • Have students create word sorts. Differentiate the activity by letting advanced groups determine the categories.

5 Comments

Filed under Literacy

5 responses to “Repetition is Key! Working Towards Multiple Exposures of New Vocabulary

  1. Further research tells us that students must use a word in correct context 40 times before they have “ownership” of it — that is, it becomes a part of their working, everyday vocabulary. Nice to know that some ideas about literacy are time-tested and unchanging. Great article.

    • Thanks so much for the great comment. The fact that it can take 40 usages for a student to really “own” a word really underscores the importance of curriculum planning that avoids the trap of going a mile wide but only an inch deep.

  2. Learning and using vocabulary are indeed a relevant part of literacy . J. Reed

  3. Pingback: Repetition is Key! Working Towards Multiple Exposures of New Vocabulary « jeannaojeda

  4. Halili

    I agree with Repetition is Key.

    But what about : To Force the Memory to Remember the learned word.

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