In Part 2 of this blog post, I want to share with you 5 reasons why using themes as a vocabulary intervention is an important approach to building and improving vocabulary with your learners. I promise that this blog won’t be as long as the first part, however, I do believe that it is necessary to give you the foundation of an enduring issue in our homes and schools, vocabulary insufficiency. We must intervene early in order to change the outcomes that have been predetermined for our Black and Brown children by the age of 3. Not only do I desire that the 30-million word deficit be reduced but also that our children gain these 5 benefits that could expand their vocabulary knowledge.

  1. Exposure

I want to share a secret and if you’ve never heard this before, now you know. Knowledge is the main benefit of exposure. And if I can go a little further, “knowledge is power.” Now, I’m almost sure we all have heard that phrase before. This is true, and for our children, it is vital that they are exposed to a wide variety of words. A little advice from the doctor, make sure you are the first person to expose your children to the world, so you can celebrate their vocabulary and reading achievements with them.

  1. Culture

My short definition of culture is simply what we believe, how we act, who we are, and how we feel. Now, I know you’re probably wondering what this has to do with building or improving vocabulary. It’s very simple; language or vocabulary is the essential tool that helps explain culture. If we don’t possess this tool clearly, we can’t express to others who we are. This is why it is so critical that our children have the vocabulary to communicate who they are instead of accepting what others believe they are or say they are.

  1. Improvement in other Subject Areas

Using themes to build vocabulary can give our children an advantage in performing better in other subject areas. For example, learning about hurricanes can help our learner in Social Studies or History and in Science. I was part of history with Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, and I’m glad I can tell my story. More advice from the doctor, when finding words that relate to a topic or theme, search for vocabulary that pertains to other subject areas.

  1. Multiple Meaning Words

There are millions of words in the English language. And guess what, there are millions of them that have multiple meanings.  Each of those meanings depend on the context in which the word is being used. For example, in Part 1 of this blog, I told you that I began teaching my daughter words that are connected to hurricanes. One of the words was depression, and depression is one of those words that have multiple meanings pending the context in which it is being used. I explained to her that when depression is used in the medical world it means feeling sad and hopeless, and in the weather world, it means the early formation of a hurricane. To be quite honest with you, no matter the context in which I hear this word, I’m unhappy with the meaning.

  1. Increases Oral Vocabulary

Are you the parent or caregiver that tells your child/children “Be quiet, you talk too much?” Yes, I’ve said this, and I realized that I shouldn’t and you shouldn’t either. The reason is children are actually embedding words that they have heard or been taught in their long term memory. Besides, the more they talk, the more they build confidence and comfort in speaking with others.

These 5 reasons are just a few of many that readers on all grade levels benefit from learning vocabulary through themes.

Dr. Z’s Helpful Hints: To implement this strategy at home, choose a theme for the week, and add 3 to 5 words per day. This will keep the Reading Doctor away. Smile. 

If you have other ideas, please share them with us at or leave a comment below. For educational consulting, literacy coaching, small business setup, non-profit setup, dissertation coaching, and family educational guidance, please contact me, Dr. Z. at, or visit my website at

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photo credit: gameraboy Sesame Street Magazine #147 (1985), cover by Rick Brown via photopin (license)

photo credit: H20 via photopin (license)

photo credit: photopin (license)

photo credit: photopin (license)

photo credit: photopin (license)

Dr. Zwila Martinez

2 thoughts on “One Fun and Creative Way to Reduce the 30-Million Word Deficit: Part 2

  1. Dr. Z, we continue to enjoy the weekly blogs. The information that you are sharing is truly priceless. Please continue in this platform of teaching and sharing.

    Very Respectfully,

    – The Moultrie Family

  2. Knowledge is power and words are weapons. We must allow the power of the pen to encourage and influence our Black & Brown students and children. Dr. Z put it best, we must intervene early in order to change the outcomes. I would also add the use of cognates to assist in English language development as well as the accusation of foreign languages.

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