We tend to think that, if the words on the Word Walls are taught and used in class, the kids have acquired them. Is this true? I think that we always assume that they have acquired more than they actually have. Simplicity and narrow and deep gets it. In my level 2 classes, I have the same word walls up from last year, because many of those words have not been acquired, along with a ton of verbs.
It’s not about the amount of words we teach them. It’s about allowing their deeper minds to grasp the structure of the language, its grammar, by hearing it spoken correctly over and over and over. It’s about laying patterns of language down, and then, when it comes to individual vocabulary words, those are easily grasped and slotted into the system as long as the overall system – that which we build by doing constant comprehensible input – becomes more firmly established with each passing class.
We need to caution ourselves against thinking that word walls are there to actually teach words – they are there to stimulate and add mojo to our classes. They rain down into our comprehension based classes from their perches on the wall, adding to the discussion, helping us get classes started, making WCT possible, helping kids with their freewrites, etc. But the real work is in the use of the comprehensible input. The word walls aren’t really all that important.