Teaching Vocabulary to English Language Learners

Michael Graves, Diane August, Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez

Published by Teachers College Press, Center for Applied Linguistics, International Reading Association, and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages


This publication offers a comprehensive plan for vocabulary instruction that K–12 teachers can use with English language learners. It is broad enough to include instruction for students who are just beginning to build their English vocabularies, as well as for students whose English vocabularies are approaching those of native speakers. It lays out in readable prose and logical order the basic facts about word learning, the research-based principles of good vocabulary teaching, and concrete examples of the practices that exemplify those principles.

The authors describe a four-pronged program that follows these key components: providing rich and varied language experiences, teaching individual words, teaching word learning strategies, and fostering word consciousness. They also address the likely effect of the Common Core State Standards on vocabulary instruction for English language learners.

This user-friendly book integrates up-to-date research on best practices into each chapter and includes vignettes, classroom activities, sample lessons, a list of children’s literature, and more. 2012. 163 pages.

About the Authors
Michael Graves is Professor Emeritus of Literacy Education at the University of Minnesota. His books include Teaching Individual Words: One Size Does Not Fit All and The Vocabulary Book.

Diane August is a former Senior Research Scientist affiliated with the Center for Applied Linguistics and is now a Managing Director affiliated with the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC. Read about the Vocabulary Instruction and Assessment for Spanish Speakers (VIAS) project managed by Diane August for CAL.

Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez is an Assistant Professor of Language, Literacy, and Technology at the University at California, Irvine. 

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