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EAL and Vocabulary in context – Workshop

Presenter: Dr Jenny Miller

Dr Miller makes a case for a closer understanding of aspects of second language acquisition (SLA) principles, and particularly vocabulary in context. Although the ACARA overview of EAL states that “the extent of vocabulary knowledge is one of the best predictors of literacy success”, it is generally not a major classroom focus across the curriculum.


Powerpoint Presentation

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Session Handouts

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Session Summary

The vocabulary workshop presented by Jennifer Miller was well attended by a range of primary, secondary and adult EAL teachers. Jenny discussed the significance of teaching vocabulary for EAL learners in all settings as well as highlighting the challenges of learning a language to a high degree of proficiency in a formal learning environment.

Research on vocabulary learning was presented; for example, students should know 95% of the words in a text for them to take meaning from it. Furthermore, recycling, revising and retrieving the vocabulary are vital for memory and language learning (exposure to the word could be up to 17 times before the vocabulary is remembered).

Jenny presented many ideas for vocabulary teaching; she started the session with a morphology activity to demonstrate the importance of understanding the root of a word. Jenny suggested that including morphology in teaching vocabulary will provide clues to students about the meaning of many other words. Ideas for vocabulary learning, useful websites and books, and strategies for ensuring that the classroom is a supportive EAL environment were presented and discussed throughout the workshop; all of these can be accessed in detail on the VicTESOL website (in the PowerPoint presentation given on the evening).

Suggested websites and books: