I have found glossaries to be an essential scaffold for EAL learners when approaching complex academic texts. In fact, you could say that glossaries will scaffold reading for any text! Therefore, it is essential that glossaries help develop an EAL learners’ vocabulary and comprehension. Glossaries can be used in any topic or subject. There are a number of different ways we can create glossaries. Here are a few I have used:

  1. Simple picture and keyword. The example below is from a Year 9 History lesson.

2. Four Square / Frayer Model

The Frayer Model is a time consuming way to create glossaries but well worth the return on the investment. Learners can either generate themselves, in groups or you could give examples from some of the keywords from a text or topic.

3. Glossary from Fenner and Snyder (2017) – Unlocking English Learners Potential

I’ve started to use an adaptation of Fenner and Snyder’s Unlocking English Learners Potential. They state that glossaries are an ‘effective scaffold for EL’s to support learning academic vocabulary and engaging with complex texts. I’ve used these as a way to front load comprehension of complex texts and poems. Fenner and Snyder quite rightly suggest that the glossaries should include ‘student friendly definitions.’ I think this is essential to support understanding academic vocabulary. Fenner and Snyder’s example of a bilingual glossary looks like this:

For learners that are not literate in their first language I would remove the translation and cognate parts. I do have some students that cannot read and write in their first language and glossaries can be extremely supportive in helping them access complex texts.

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