Experienced teachers consistently note that too many students comprehend their content area texts poorly, and that lack of vocabulary knowledge is a major challenge. Formal tests of reading comprehension and of vocabulary confirm teacher impressions, showing that students in urban schools, especially those from non-English speaking homes, are often far behind where they need to be on vocabulary knowledge. If students knew more of the words they confront in their texts (or knew how to learn about those words), then content-area teaching would be much more successful.

If we are to help teachers support their students' vocabulary learning, we need to be clear about what we mean by vocabulary learning, and what we know about how to support it.

  • Unfortunately, myths about vocabulary instruction persist.

    Examine 12 Myths:

    There are many widely held beliefs about vocabulary learning embedded in traditional practice, which recent research findings would challenge. Many of these beliefs should be classified as myths and directly confronted in professional development.

  • More about introducing new words in the classroom:

    Dr. Evelyn Ford-Connors of Boston University answers questions related to a variety of approaches.


Professor Catherine Snow discusses nine principles proven to be effective related to vocabulary instruction.

THE WORDGEN  TEAMDevelopment of Word Generation was led by Catherine Snow (Harvard University) through a SERP collaboration with the Boston Public Schools and other districts in Massachusetts and Maryland. Support for Word Generation was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Leon Lowenstein Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education through grant numbers R305A090555 and R305F100026. The information provided does not represent views of the funders.

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