Using VocabulArte

Using VocabulArte

in Dual Language, Bilingual, Immersion,
and World Language Classrooms

Whether your students are native Spanish speakers or native English speakers learning Spanish, you will find that VocabulArte provides unique support in encouraging authentic, engaging discussions in Spanish, while students increase their Spanish academic vocabulary and oral language skills.

Discussions4Learning and VocabulArte provide rich oral academic language experiences in both English and Spanish that enhance bilingualism and biliteracy, as well as multicultural proficiency. Particularly relevant aspects:

  • A successful Dual Language program begins with a quality curriculum, one that is enriching and not “watered down” or remedial, in either English and the partner language. Both Discussions4Learning and VocabulArte are equally challenging and promote higher-order thinking and academic language use in English and Spanish.

  • Students must learn all aspects of language both in their home and partner language — vocabulary, grammar, syntax, etc. — but Dual Language educators agree that these features are best learned not through discrete skills lessons but through scaffolded, meaningful, discussions that encourage students to USE these language skills in context.

  • Discussions4Learning and VocabulArte are aligned to content standards and are thematically connected, specifically to the sciences and social studies.

  • Context is essential in a Dual Language setting. Context lowers the language demands. There are two main ways that both Discussions4Learning and VocabulArte use contextualization — one is visual or sensory and the other is verbal. The discussion of fine art images and real-world photos provides a unique visual context that ensures understanding for all. Discussions range from those involving scaffolded language (verbal context clues) to those that are decontextualized and more interpretative in nature.

  • Sophisticated and unique vocabulary in both languages is presented using specially designed context sentences with ample clues to help students comprehend and become “word-wise” as they develop independent word learning tools.

  • Vocabulary words in both Discussions4Learning and VocabulArte foster maximum transfer and build on the interplay of academic vocabulary between Spanish and English.

  • A key strategy to challenging native speakers while keeping the language manageable for second language learners is carefully crafted questions. This is based on the principle that optimal language learning involves ACTION and must entail active involvement by all. Both programs employ a variety of questioning strategies that support all learners, regardless of their language proficiency level. The programs offer non-threatening ways to participate fully and equitably in discussions. For example, at times teachers might differentiate by eliciting responses that match students’ developmental level in the language, e.g. a short phrase response or simple thumbs up or down.

  • Discussions4Learning and VocabulArte require virtually no preparation, so Dual Language teachers can just “pick up and teach” in either language!



In a scientifically-based research study, classrooms that used the Discussions4Learning curriculum demonstrated significant, statistical gains in the following areas:

  • Overall vocabulary knowledge
  • Retention of academically challenging vocabulary
  • Ability to use context clues to decipher meaning of unknown words
  • Listening comprehension of both fiction and nonfiction texts