Core vocabulary can be described as:
A set of the most frequently used words in communication- words used over and over with flexibility in a variety of settings and conversations.
Yup. That’s kind of it in a nutshell. ☝️
And turns out the most frequently used words are typically pronouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions and the like. 🤔
NOT the typical words you see on most picture icons. 👈
That’s because, chances are, you are familiar with icons representing the other type of vocabulary: fringe Vocabulary.
In comparison to core vocabulary, fringe words only make up about 20-25% of what we say. 🤯
These words are largely nouns and are specific to a person, a topic, or a setting.
For instance, the word “spatula” is a fringe word.
It is a noun and is very specific to the kitchen setting.
It doesn’t have flexible usage in a variety of conversations.
Consider the following conversation that could take place in the kitchen:
Mom: "What do you need?"
Child: "I need to turn it."
Mom holds up two options.
Mom: "Do you want a fork or a spatula?"
Child: "I want that one." (pointing)
There are 21 words in this conversation. 19 of the words are core words (what, do, need, I, turn, that . . . ).
The other 2 are fringe words (fork, spatula).
The child was able to communicate with 100% core vocabulary.
Instead of using the specific noun “spatula,” he was able to use other words that will come in useful in a variety of future conversations: “need to,” “turn it,” “that one.”
Picture a traditional fringe icon for “cookie.” 🍪
A student can present this icon to request a cookie. 🍪 That’s about it (give or take some creativity).
Now picture icons for core words such as “like” “don’t” “eat,” “want,” and “more.”
Now THESE words can really take you the distance. 🙌
Roughly 80% of What We Say Consists of Just 300 Words.
When you teach your students CORE vocabulary, you're giving them so much more than just a few words.
You're giving them the words they need to start a conversation, to comment to a friend, or to ask for something they want, or interject into a conversation.
Simply put, you're giving them the words they need to communicate.
Reading from A-Z: A Guide to Emergent Readers and Stages of Development