AWEJ Volume.4 Number.2, 2013                                                                                      Pp.152 -159

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Vocabulary Development Strategies for the L2 Classroom

Elham Yahia
St. John’s University, Queens, New York
United States

Richard Sinatra
St. John’s University, Queens, New York
united States

This paper presents some important considerations in word instruction and learning for the English Language Learner (ELL).  Specific strategies and techniques are provided for English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers to assist others to apply in home and classroom situations. The two broad areas of direct, sequential instruction and incidental learning of vocabulary through contextual experiences are discussed and word list sources are presented of high utility English words. The key throughout instruction is for the ESL/EFL teacher to be word-conscious or word mindful of the power of vocabulary to enrich thinking and understanding. Vocabulary knowledge has been identified as one of the best predictors of reading comprehension and fluency while facilitating the learning of a second language (L2). Specific techniques such as the use of concept maps, word webs, and word sorts are presented to help students learn content-specific, academic vocabulary.
Keywords: Vocabulary development; L2; EFL/ESL instruction; academic vocabulary; word-conscious teaching; modeling


Elham Yahia is a Ph.D. in Literacy Candidate at St. John‟s University School of Education, New York,
USA. Her research efforts focus on literacy and language learning, student‟s self-efficacy, learning styles,
and motivation. Her dissertation paper is in Literacy education with emphasis on English as a
Second/Foreign Language Education. She presented in several international conferences and also a
member of well recognized organization such as TESOL International, TESOL Arabia, TESOL Sudan,
Dr. Richard Sinatra is Associate Dean of the School of Education at St. John‟s University School of
Education, New York, USA. He is also the Director of the Reading and Writing Education Center, and
teaches Literacy courses in the Department of Human Services and Counseling. He has been an educator
for over 45 years. His writing, research, and literacy projects are grounded in the theoretical constructs of
reading comprehension, vocabulary knowledge, narrative and expository text structure, and writing
instructions. His contributions to the field of education have been widely recognized, and he served as an
“outside committee member” for doctoral candidates in different universities. One dissertation he
mentored won a first place prize supported by the College Reading association in October 24, 2001.