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Vocabulary Instruction: White Paper by Dr. Timothy Rasinski

Research Applies to: Vocabulary A-Z


Research studies have demonstrated strong connections between vocabulary and reading proficiency, writing proficiency, and content-area learning. However, the teaching of vocabulary often fails to follow best practices. This paper proposes improvements to typical vocabulary teaching methods.


In this white paper, Dr. Rasinski:

  • Reflects on the challenges involved in teaching vocabulary in schools, created by both the English language itself and the lack of time dedicated to systematically building students’ vocabulary during class.
  • Recommends a course of action to address the state of vocabulary teaching, including attending to the multiple dimensions of vocabulary and following principles for effective and engaging vocabulary instruction.
  • Advocates for making vocabulary instruction active, recurring, discussion-based, game-like, and aware of word morphology.


Rasinski, T. (2019). Vocabulary instruction: Essential for proficient reading. Tucson, AZ: Learning A-Z.

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