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Academic vocabulary (also known as Tier 2 vocabulary) words appear in many different contexts and are subtle or precise ways to say relatively simple things, for example “relative” or “accumulate”. The Common Core and other college- and career-ready standards emphasize regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary because academic vocabulary helps students access and understand increasing levels of complex texts across all content areas.
Academic vocabulary words are often vital to comprehension, reappear in many texts, and frequently are part of a word family or semantic network. Tier two words can carry disproportionate weight in conveying the meaning of a text, and a reader who doesn’t understand even a single of these high-value words might have his or her comprehension thrown off track. For these reasons, significant instructional attention should be spent on these words.
The challenge to teachers is to be alert to the presence of tier two words, determine which ones need to be taught, and which words deserve more time and effort for richer understanding. The Academic Word Finder pulls the most useful academic vocabulary words from a given text.
This tool does not replace teacher judgment; rather it helps to support the teacher and identify the most useful academic words. The Academic Word Finder produces a list of words that are not too common (so that most students know them) and not too rare (so that they are not often found in texts). That said, there may be other academic vocabulary words that are either rare or common that a teacher determines are important to the text.
In addition, the academic vocabulary identified in a text can be a proxy for text complexity, though it does not replace the work a teacher does to fully analyze a text for complexity. Learn more about text complexity.
The Academic Word Finder is simple to use.
You will notice that there are often multiple definitions for a single word. This is because that word has multiple senses – a hallmark of academic vocabulary.
There are a variety of free resources available to support vocabulary development.
achievethecore.org’s digital tools and resources for teachers have been made possible by contributions from teachers across the country as well as through generous support from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the GE Foundation.
To learn more about Student Achievement Partners and for access to an array of free resources, please visit us at achievethecore.org.