Vocabulary, Fluency and Comprehension
Vocabulary plays an invaluable role in reading. A strong and diverse vocabulary is a must for every single child and it applies to early learners, intermediate and high school. The value of developing your child’s vocabulary continuously is critical. Vocabulary is the ability to use a word that names or identifies the name, action or feeling that is being expressed. The recognition and understanding of words is a necessary skill to communicate effectively (comprehend and express). There are several types of vocabulary such as listening vocabulary, speaking vocabulary, reading vocabulary and writing vocabulary. Vocabulary is learnt. Vocabulary is learnt without awareness (through reading, listening to audio books, conversations with adults and peers) or with awareness and direction (with specific instruction and taught strategies).
Tips to develop vocabulary:
- There are child friendly dictionaries - appropriate to your child's age. When purchasing a dictionary look at the print, the style (does it have pictures for younger children) and what words can be found in the dictionary.
- Using the context around a word to help establish the meaning of the word.
- Exercises to try
◦ Learn new words every week: spelling, meaning and pictures to relate to the new word. Keep a list of the new words on the fridge in bright colours and association pictures for younger children.
◦ Always ask your child about words, explore their understanding and application of words (for example – What does 'design' mean? How do you use 'design' in a sentence?)
◦ Using sound, sight, touch, smell and movement techniques to incorporate holistic learning – giving words to describe experiences. The couch you are touching is smooth, silky and soft.
Fluency is a child’s ability to read accurately, fluidly, smoothly and effectively. Fluency is pivotal to indicating word recognition and expression. Fluent readers are able to read the text easily as there recognition skills from a large vocubalory foundation. It is no longer necessary to spend to concentrating on how to decode words. Reading fluency gives the child the freedom to focus on understanding the text and begin to ‘read with meaning’.
- start showing your child how punctuation works whilst you are reading together, indicate when to pause and when to be more expressive. Explain long pauses, such as full stops, question marks and exclamation marks; and short pauses: commas, semi-colons and dashes. Describe and explain how to be expressive and how to interpret what they are reading so that they use the correct expressive voice.
- Ask your child to read aloud, then read aloud yourself asking them to follow you in the text as you read and once you have finished ask your child to read the text again. You can repeat this exercise. Suggestion: use smaller sections of texts that are appropriate for your child’s reading skills; you may even wish to use easier materials and move forward from there – building your child’s confidence in their reading skills as you progress.
- Invest in an audio CD story with a book so that your child can follow the text in the book as it is played from the CD. They may also read out aloud in conjunction with the CD.
- Repetition of the text in different auditory mediums is also a beneficial way to build on fluency skills: listening to other people read the text, write and say the text aloud at the same time, read the text aloud and silent reading visualising how it would sound.
Comprehension is the ability and skill to understand and interpret a text and understand the meaning of the text. This is the final step, yet most complicated category, in foundation reading skills. To comprehend a text your child will need prior knowledge that will add to and develop their comprehension as well as their understanding. Skills required are remembering facts, sequencing, keywords, main ideas and summaries are fundamental to developing strong comprehension skills.
There are several types of comprehension questions -below provides a basic foundational outline:
Textually explicit comprehension questions are when questions are aimed at the literal understanding of the written text; these questions are information that is direct and targeted towards the main idea – they are direct conclusions. Examples: Who took the cake? Where did the girl hide the cake? What day was her birthday?
Scripturally clear comprehension questions require background knowledge in order to answer the question). Examples: What happened at the beginning of the story? If you went to the beach where would you find shells?
- Bloom’s Taxonomy is one of the most popular works used to identify comprehension skills and development of comprehension knowledge and abilities.
- WH questions
- Comprehension skills starts with analysis of pictures, ask your child about the picture: Where something is? What is someone doing? How do they feel? Why are they doing that? What colour is the bird? Where is the dog? If your child is struggling with written comprehension return to visual comprehension and build on their understanding and answering of questions first.
- EduHelp has created a few charts and methods to develop comprehension skills.