Who can argue that we are learning difficult lessons in this pandemic? I’ve always been an advocate for word consciousness, so the vocabulary lesson interests me. What we have learned in just two months’ time is astounding.
Consider this. Mastery of a new word takes more than a dozen meaningful repetitions. Children learn basic words through family and social interactions. More advanced vocabulary develops as children enter school and become active learners. The most difficult words to master and comprehend are those that come from sophisticated technical fields. Technical words that are content specific comprise the highest tier of word knowledge.
Yet, I think you’ll agree that many of us have acquired vocabulary in the fields of immunology, economics, and statistics. Just for the fun of it I decided to alphabetize technical vocabulary that has become quite familiar. For you educators, I’m sure you’ll recognize this as our unit word wall. Sure, some basic words I’ve known since childhood, but now they convey multiple new meanings.
Pandemiology: A to Z
A antibody, apex
C cases, coordinate, correlate, curve
D data, deaths, distancing
E essential, epidemic
F facemasks, first-responders, flatten, furlough
G global, guidelines
H hoard, hospital beds, hotspots, hydroxychloroquine, hygiene
I immunity, infections, intubate, isolate
K key model
L labor-force, lock-down, loans
N n-95, new-normal, non-essential, novel
O open, outbreak
P pandemic, PPE, PPP, projection, protocol
R rate, reagent, recovery, remdesivir, resources
S science, shelter, social-distance, spread, stimulus, supply-chain, surveillance, symptoms
T taskforce, telehealth, testing, tracing, trials
U unite, unemployment
V vaccine, ventilator, virus, vulnerable
W wave, W.H.O., workforce
X Xi Jinping
Effective teachers design multiple opportunities for learners to interact with words. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Governor Andrew Cuomo have proven to be masters at vocabulary instruction. It’s clear that when we have numerous exposures to a word that conveys a vital message, we learn that word.