To begin thinking about which words to teach, consider that words in language have various levels of utility. The notion of tiers is a helpful lens through which to consider words for instructional attention. Tier One consists of the most basic words. Tier Three includes words whose frequency of use is quite low, often being limited to specific domains and best learned when needed in a content area. Tier Two words are high-frequency words for mature language users and thus instruction in these words can add productively to an individual’s language ability.
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