What counts as knowing a word; is it enough to be able to read it? To spell it? To know what it means?
Our colleague Ros Wright, a very skilled trainer, answered this question in our seminar in a great demonstration of micro-teaching. Here are some of the notes she used:
1.Where I started with the Vocabulary issue!
- My background as ESOL teacher, where systematic teaching of vocabulary is the norm
- Anecdotal/ my children: “guitar” – baby’s first spoken word! “exhilarating” – 10 year old son describing a theme park.
- A piece of local research: “Full on English” by Philida Schellekens (2005) – based on students at City College, born in UK to ESOL parents.
- I have a growing concern about the limited vocabulary shown by many students I support.
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Look Cover Write Check (LCWC) is more commonly used as a routine for enabling learners to increase the number of words they can spell through regular and systematic routines to enhance memory.
In my study researching strategies to enable adults to read more effectively I developed a range of guidance sheets covering 4 broad strands: word attack skills, fluency, vocabulary development and comprehension.
- Use colour and highlight shape to make the word look more memorable.
- Exaggerate the pronunciation, if this helps, but also know how to read it in the standard way. Compare the two.
- Devise a mnemonic, if this helps.
- Emphasise the SAY at each stage of the process to make explicit the reading element.
- The routine for the learner is then as follows:
- Look at the word and say it.
- Cover the word, see it in your mind’s eye and say it.
- Keep the word covered and write it. Say it as you write.
- Check the word you wrote against the original and systematically correct any errors.
- Say the word again and visualise seeing it in a piece of reading material.
- Repeat this routine three or four times per week.
- At the end of the week the tutor checks if the learner can read this and similar sounding/looking words (e.g. if they learned ‘train’, check to see if they can read brain, drain, plain, explain, mountain, etc. – see how many extra words they can read).
- If possible read or read a text where the target words occur to check that the learner can also read these words in context.
We discovered during my study that it is wise to decide in advance if you are using LCWC exclusively for spelling or for reading rather than expecting to cover both. This was particularly important if a learner liked exaggerated pronunciation as a strategy to make a word more memorable for spelling, as this then influenced the way they read the word.
The key for me is the use of dynamic strategies to make the word more memorable in the first place, using whichever multisensory approach the reader finds most helpful. For some people this stage is sufficient to embed a word into a reasonable reading vocabulary. However other adult readers need the added routine that the LCWC protocol affords to make the transfer from short-term to long-term memory.Leave a comment or ask a question »