Tips for Learning New Vocabulary Words

Word Walls as Effective Reminders


Word walls are commonly used as a learning tool in classrooms.  Not only do they help provide sight recognition, but also, can develop and reinforce vocabularies.  Additionally, they work as effective reminders of new or important words. This repetitive viewing technique helps improve memory and makes it accessible for teachers when discussing the importance of the words. However, it is most effective to add only five words at a time and to give students time to learn and memorize each unique word before adding more.  As students begin to grasp the concept and enjoy the wall, add five more words, but be sure to give students a printed list to study at home.

Types of Word Walls
Sight word walls are common in elementary schools.  Once a student has mastered sight words, they will be able to understand 50-75% of words in any text they read.  Add to the sight word wall as proficiency is developed.  In addition, literature word walls can help students understand new words in their reading material, plot direction and characters.  IN addition, writing word walls help students who are learning about a specific type of writing.  By including words that should be used in their writing, they understand concepts better.

Ideas for Word Walls
Consider using word walls for spelling. When students look at a spelling list on the wall before taking a test, they do better.  However, make sure to cover up the words before any tests are administered.  In addition, students learning about parts of speech may benefit from a word wall that shows how different words are categorized.  Another idea is a seasonal word wall that focuses on different words that can be associated with a particular season.  Finally, phonics words can be posted on a wall to show the connection between sounds and printed letters.

Using Word Walls for Standardized Test Preparation
Standardized test preparation can benefit from using a word wall.  Understanding vocabulary in a question and answer format is important. By providing a word wall using relevant terminology from tests, students can become more familiar with the wording before taking the test. However, all key terms used in questions and answers should be posted on the wall; give students the time to fully comprehend difficult terms throughout the year.  As a result, this will help them become more comfortable with the words and be able to use them in the proper context.

Word walls support reading and writing and can be constructed to fit any topic. Word walls also reinforce acquired vocabulary, serving as a reference point for reading and writing. A word wall is a highly interactive, ongoing display that should be a constant work in progress. While there is no one right way to build one, keep your word wall relevant to the needs of the student and organize in a way that is creative but still practical to students.