Vocabulary Preview

Education Services / L’équipe des services d’éducation
19 January 2012

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What is a Vocabulary Preview?

This is an individual pre-reading strategy that provides students with a vocabulary list that they will encounter in a given text or video. Before reading about, or viewing a video about an unfamiliar topic, students identify how familiar they are with a group of vocabulary words and are then given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the words, as well as the topic.

Why use it?

  • To access and activate prior knowledge of vocabulary found in a text or video
  • To preview vocabulary that the students will be engaging in when reading/viewing a text or video
  • To track new vocabulary students encounter when reading a reading/viewing a text or video

How do I use it?

Vocabulary Preview
  • Create a vocabulary list for a given article or video using the Vocabulary Preview Template (see image at right) or use one of the Ready-to-Use Vocabulary Preview BLMs created for CurioCity content (see below).
  • Provide each student with the prepared Vocabulary Preview page at the beginning of the class.
  • Students complete the Vocabulary Preview activity before they read/view the selected text/video.
  • Students categorize each word from the list and decide whether:
    • The word is totally new;
    • They have heard of the word, yet are not sure of its meaning;
    • They know the meaning of the word; or
    • They know the meaning of the word and can use it in a sentence.
  • Students can hand in their completed Vocabulary Preview pages to the teacher as a formative assessment of prior knowledge of the topic.

Tips for success

  • Choose an article or text you want your students to read. This strategy can work well with texts that present new vocabulary to the reader.
  • Provide the students with additional sources of information on the given topic such as websites, books, etc.
  • If creating your own Vocabulary Preview, create a list of words from the selected text/video that you feel are important for the students to understand. List both familiar and unfamiliar words so that the students can begin to understand the relationship between the words.


  • Once completed, the Vocabulary Preview can be used in different ways:
    • Students can work in pairs and discuss their responses. Students can then work together to define the unfamiliar words; or
    • Difficult words and concepts can be explicitly taught prior to reading the text to ensure the students are able to fully access the information presented.


  • Students can work together to practice pronunciations of the words in the Vocabulary Preview list.
  • Students can research the meaning of the words in the list.
  • Given a list of definitions, students then match these to the words in the list.


RSU 54/MSAD 54. (2011). Before Reading – Previewing. (accessed May 6, 2014).

Adapted from Porter, K. (n.d.). Reading: Prereading Strategies. (accessed Dec. 16, 2016).

Create-Your-Own Vocabulary Preview

  • Vocabulary Preview Template [.doc] [.pdf]

Starting Points Using Vocabulary Previews

Ready-to-Use Vocabulary Previews

  • Vocabulary Preview: Algae Alert [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Astronomy 101: Deep Space Objects [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Back into Focus [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Beneath the Band-aid [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Blood Sucking Souvenirs [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: The Bright Way to Light Up the Season [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: The Classification of Life: From Linnaean Taxonomy to DNA Barcoding [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: The Dirt on Soil Conservation [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Electronic Books for the Digital Age [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Food chains, food choices and the environment [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: GM? GE? Gee Whiz! [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Hop to it! The science behind beer [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: How do X-rays Work Anyways? [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Mutations [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Natural Rubber - the Other Wonderful (but less tasty) Tree Sap [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Nuking Your Food [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Ringwoodite: The missing link in Earth's water cycle [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: What is Cancer? [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: What is Thermodynamics? [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Vocabulary Preview: Why are there natural disasters on Earth? [.doc] [.pdf]

Education Services / L’équipe des services d’éducation

This content is provided through Let's Talk Science's Education Services team.

Ce contenu est fourni par l'équipe des services d'éducation de Parlons sciences.

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