The Meaning of Words Words
and word meanings are among the most important information
cues used in language when understanding, listening, speaking,
reading or writing. Life experience and cultural specific
frames of reference are most relevant to the development of
linguistic ‘meaning making’ in any language. This
fact is vital in communication and educational assessment.
When evaluating a child for vocabulary knowledge, who is
learning in two languages (or only in the second one), it
is important to take into account the following factors:
- Word meanings may be dispersed in the two languages with
‘context specific’ vocabularies in each language.
This means that a student may only know colors in English
(L2) and foods in his/her native Language (L1)
- Vocabulary is not inadequate simply because a student
has difficulty labeling items in a particular category.
Children’s vocabularies may be constrained by the
lexical frequency of the words or word classes in their
- A student who has been educated in the native language
may bring to English academic content cognates such as adicionar
(add), subtrair (subtract), multiplicar (multiply) etc.
- Words from his/her native language and culture
Friends (UniLang Wiki, 2005) are those words that look
similar but have different meanings such as
actually = na verdade / atualmente = at
- Cognates are those words that look similar and mean the
Mathematics = Matemática