The Meaning of Words Words and word
meanings are one of the most important information cues used
in speaking and understanding, as well as in reading. Indeed,
the student’s life experience and cultural experience
are most relevant to the development of linguistic ‘meaning
making’ in any language, which is very important in
the communication process.
When assessing for vocabulary knowledge in a child 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
(L1) and foods in his/her native language (L1).
- While students who have had some years of schooling in
the United States may have a strong ability to understand
and use words that they have encountered in school, words
more often associated with home may be puzzling to them
when encountered in English (Gutiérrez et. al., 2000).
- A student who has been educated in Spanish may bring to
English academic content cognates such as multiplicar
(multiply), dividir (divide), etc.
- Words from a student’s native language and culture
perspective can carry special associations. For instance,
the Spanish words for hammock, tobacco, and potato are derived
from Taíno words for these items (Foley, 1995). Therefore,
vocabulary and meaning is affected by the history of the
region, its political system, and previous environmental
variables or indigenous groups.
Friends (UniLang Wiki, 2005) are those words that look
similar but have different meanings such as:
Actually = en verdad / actualmente = at