Core Vocabulary

What is core vocabulary?

Core vocabulary is a small set of simple words, in any language, that are used frequently and across contexts (Cross, Baker, Klotz & Badman, 1997). Core vocabulary contains all parts of speech – nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections and serves as a great medium for teaching language.

From toddlers to seniors, core’s simple words make up 80 percent or more of everyday communication and are the heart of language development. Action words like “want,” “put,” “get,” nouns like “thing,” “stuff,” and “people,” pronouns like “I, me, my, mine,” and “he, she, it, them,” form easy sentences with demonstratives like “this” and “that.” Early adverbs like “here” and “there” enable all students to express themselves. “Put it here,” “Get me this,” and “I want that” are what young children say when they are building sentences (Minspeak).

Teaching core vocabulary is fundamental to teaching AAC. Here are some introductory resources on core:

What is core vocabulary

Core vocabulary 101 webinar from Maureen Nevers, SLP.

Core vocabulary page from PrAACtical AAC.

Self-directed learning module on core vocabulary

Teaching strategies for AAC

Modeling, or aided language input, is one of the most important strategies for teaching core vocabulary. See this page for information and videos on how to model for students who are learning to use AAC.

For families:

This page provides information, activities and ideas for families on using core vocabulary with your child. Another excellent resource is PrAACtical AAC’s page for families.

Resources from the 2017-2018 school year (AAC Initiative)

AAC EMSB core vocabulary powerpoint (2017-2018)

Writing a script (lesson plan) for core vocabulary development

EMSB Padlet of core vocabulary resources

Québec English School Boards Teach AAC website

Where do I start? Core vocabulary PLC guide for teachers, online resources and webinars (from Teach AAC website)