Aprender para Enseñar: Building Vocabulary through Children’s Literature with Linda Gerena
On Tuesday, December 2nd, we held the first talk of our series Aprender para Enseñar: Encuentros con Padres y Profesores. Our speaker was Dr. Linda Gerena, who joined us on a visit from the US, where she is an Associate Professor of Teacher Education at York College, City University of New York. Dr. Gerena’s talk was titled Building Vocabulary through Children’s Literature.
Linda shared many strategies with us, the most important of which was Read, Read, Read! She encouraged both parents and teachers to read to and with children as much as possible, and to discuss interesting, new or difficult words with children. She explained that children need at least 15 meaningful exposures to a new word in order to properly understand and apply it, and that using a dictionary to learn words is one of the least effective methods.
The audience listened to a story, Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (available in our Library) and brainstormed vocabulary words that they could work on with children, in class or at home. Linda demonstrated strategies such as looking at the illustrations in the book during a “Book Walk”, giving examples of what words mean, and identifying synonyms and antonyms for the word. She also discussed the importance of recognizing cognates between English and Spanish, as 40% of English words have Latin roots. Looking at parts of words such as prefixes, suffixes and root words is also important in developing life-long vocabulary skills.
Dr. Gerena also recommended the use of graphic organizers as tools for supporting multi-dimensional vocabulary work, rather than the traditional method of writing a definition/ translation and a sentence with the word.
Here are some pages with graphic organizers that can be used with primary children:
Scholastic (for vocabulary and reading comprehension)
Article about using Graphic Organizers on Colorín Colorado
Colorín Colorado is a fantastic bilingual resource for parents and teachers. Here’s an article about using words to teach other words in English and in Spanish.
Reading and working on vocabulary in Spanish will also help children to have a strong base for vocabulary learning in English. Here are some Graphic Organizers in Spanish.
Word walls are another tool to provide visual support for word study, and for making connections between words and concepts. Some examples:
From Reading Rockets: Word Walls for different subjects
Scholastic: Word Walls that Work
Dr. Gerena has also kindly shared the notes from her session with us.
notes Building Vocabulary To Support Language Acquisition 12-2-14
Here is a link to the talk Linda gave here at the Institute in November 2012. We hope to see her at the Institute again in 2015! Thank you all for coming!