Vocabulary Development for CLD Students

Vocabulary Development for CLD Students

What is vocabulary development for CLD students? Let's begin by defining the acronyms CDL is culturally and linguistically diverse. When developing new vocabulary the goals are the same for all students depending on their grade. The vocabulary development for CLD students must support their current academic demands. When considering vocabulary development it is important to take into account the student's prior knowledge. What students know about their world and where and when they will best demonstrate proficiency.

Research shows a strong relationship between vocabulary and academic success. It is critical for English language learners (ELL) to gain knowledge in vocabulary because it reinforces communication and writing skills. There are different ways teachers can interact with students, for example, interactive word walls, graphic organizers, visual games, etc. Developing new vocabulary does not have to be boring it can be creative and interactive. Some of the first words CLD students should start learning are tier I and tier II. Tier I words are basic words and do not need much instruction. Some examples of Tier I words are book, dog, apple, etc. Tier II words are usually found in the more complex text and are usually very powerful words because it helps to comprehend reading and follow instructions on text.

Robert Marzano’s Six steps to better vocabulary instructions

  1. Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term.

  2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.

  3. Ask students to construct a picture, pictograph, or symbolic representation of the term.

  4. Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks.

  5. Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another.

  6. Involve students periodically in games that enable them to play with terms.

We can always modify the steps according to our own teaching practices but Marzano’s guide is a great beginning. In my classroom, I do a combination of steps and also add graphic organizers for better organization and use students' own creativity. It is more successful when students generate their own explanations and pictures because their ideas come from their own life experiences. As educators, we still have a lot more to learn when it comes to supporting CLD students to develop new vocabulary. It's all about having the same goal for everyone which is to develop new vocabulary.


Jackson, J., Wise, E., Zurbuchen, K., & Gardner, N. (2017). Teacher's toolkit: Interactive word walls: Visual scaffolds that transform vocabulary instruction. Science Scope, 040(09). https://doi.org/10.2505/4/ss17_040_09_72

Catherine J. Crowley and Donna M. Valenti, Crowley, C. J., Audiology, S.-L. P. and, Valenti, D. M., & Program, S.-L. I. (n.d.). Vocabulary development with students who are culturally and linguistically diverse. ASHA Wire. Retrieved May 7, 2022, from https://pubs.asha.org/doi/epdf/10.1044/lle9.3.25

Lesaux Nonie K., Harris Julie Russ , Edited by Nell K Duke. Cultivating Knowledge, Building Language., Literacy Instruction for English Learners in Elementary School. Pgs.80-88

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