Effective Vocabulary Instruction for the Struggling Reader

Cecilia A. Hicks
Cecilia A. Hicks

Yesterday afternoon tutors statewide participated in a virtual training facilitated by Cecilia A. Hicks, of Florida State College at Jacksonville, on effective vocabulary instruction for struggling adult readers.  Below, Cecilia Hicks provides a synopsis of the training, and other helpful hints for tutors and teachers.

Vocabulary refers to knowledge of word meanings. We’ve discovered that there are two types of vocabularies used:

  1. oral – words we can use and understand in speaking and listening
  2. reading – the store of words we recognize and understand in print

The reader cannot understand the writer’s message unless they understand the meanings of most of the words. Who needs vocabulary instruction? Everyone at varying reading levels benefit from this vital component of the reading process. There are several research- and evidence-based strategies and activities tutors can use.  Here is a list of some of these strategies.

  1. Using direct vocabulary instruction can include pre-teaching the words in instructional text. Teach the meaning of the word before the reading of the text.
  2. Be sure the learner uses the word through projects, employment, etc…
  3. Make the learning relevant to the learner.
  4. Teach how prefixes and suffixes can change the meaning and function of base words.
  5. Use context clues
  6. Teach the learner how to use a dictionary and thesaurus.

Several websites that I use often and modify as necessary include:

A  final note: remember the learning style of your adult learner and try to incorporate something for everyone during your teaching or tutoring session.

This training was a collaborative learning event brought to you by the Florida Adult Literacy Resource Center, a program of the Florida Literacy Coalition. This training was made possible through the support of the Florida Department of Education, Division of Career and Adult Education.

Did you participate in yesterday’s training?  Let us know your thoughts; leave your comments in the box below!

Have any Question or Comment?

0 comments on “Effective Vocabulary Instruction for the Struggling Reader

Frida Marte

Thank you for a meaningful session on Teaching Vocabulary to Struggling students. And thank you for adding the links for additional resources.


I am so glad you enjoyed the online training. Thank you.

Helen Walker

Thank you for your presentation on Effective Vocabulary Instruction for the Struggling Adult Learner.The information will be helpful. The examples given will be a good source of reference for the future. I hope we are allowed more time for questions/answers in the future.
I would like to suggest that Ms. Hicks present a class on Student Assessment. For example, how to assess a student at the beginning, intermediate, and the end of a class. Thanks


This is a great idea. There are several methods of assessments than can be implemented. Thank you.


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