In a recent article published in Science Magazine, Harvard researcher Catherine Snow discussed a growing problem in our schools: the lack of academic vocabulary instruction.
Many fluent readers, and especially struggling readers, have a difficult time understanding texts in science, math, and social studies because the terminology is so foreign. This disconnect hits hardest in junior high and high school, when the texts become more complex and vocabulary instruction becomes less prevalent. So what can be done?
One solution is to familiarize younger students with academic vocabulary. Programs like Imagine Learning English provide students with explicit and advanced academic vocabulary instruction. With 100 new words and phrases — including words like interpret, theory, characteristics, natural resources, evidence, and identify — Imagine Learning English prepares students with important terms that will help them read with understanding. But the help doesn’t stop there.
Snow’s study found that students comprehend fictional texts and narratives more than they do chapters in their science and math textbooks. Even armed with the right vocabulary, students must develop comprehension skills to tackle content area texts. Imagine Learning English presents advanced texts in pairs, so the first text can provide background knowledge for the second. Students also receive vocabulary instruction before reading and then comprehension feedback after reading to ensure they understood. With an interactive glossary as additional help, students read about space, gravity, migrations, ecosystems, and topics from a variety of other content areas with success.