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Language & Literacy: Vocabulary

presented by Shari Robertson

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Shari Robertson receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.


Non-Financial: Shari Robertson has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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A reduced or constrained vocabulary is one of the hallmarks of children with language delays. This is a serious obstacle to the development of reading and writing – which is, in turn, critical to success in academic, social, and vocational settings. Lacking adequate vocabulary, and strategies to learn new words, students simply do not have the building blocks they need to effectively comprehend what they read. This course will discuss the critical role that oral vocabulary plays in reading comprehension, as well as provide multiple strategies to develop vocabulary using both direct and indirect instruction.

Meet Your Instructor

Shari Robertson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Shari Robertson, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, is a Professor of Speech Language Pathology and Dean’s Associate for Graduate Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Robertson spent 18 years as a school-based SLP and special education administrator prior to obtaining her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She recently served on the ASHA Board of Directors as…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Vocabulary Development Key Concepts

The chapter will review the relevant research and key concepts related to the critical role vocabulary plays in reading comprehension, as well as the obstacles faced by children with language disorders related to vocabulary development. A discussion of the classification of vocabulary by tier, and the role this plays in making decisions about selection of vocabulary targets, will be also addressed. A discussion of direct versus indirect vocabulary instruction will end this chapter

2. Indirect Development of Vocabulary

An extensive body of research reveals that indirect vocabulary instruction, by interacting in conversations with others or encountering new words in text, is the most efficient way for children to learn new vocabulary. SLPs can do much, particularly in the early years, to facilitate vocabulary development via indirect instruction. This chapter will demonstrate interactive reading techniques and conversational strategies to support learning of new vocabulary.

3. Direct Vocabulary Instruction

Although a large majority of vocabulary is learning indirectly, incidental encounters do not insure that students will acquire the words they need to be successful in all settings. This is especially true for students with language learning deficits who most likely will simply fall farther and farther behind without intentional, explicit vocabulary instruction. This chapter will focus on direct vocabulary instruction based on the current evidence base.

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