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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

Understanding the FRAYER MODEL for Vocabulary Building!

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

"Vocabulary is a matter of word-building as well as word-using." – David Crystal.

We need vocabulary in every form and in every way. Academic language is essential to all students' ability to communicate effectively. Therefore, including vocabulary-building activities and lessons in the curriculum from an early age is vital. Regular practice and implementation help to learn vocabulary concepts better, leading to word-building and word-suing. This is critical to help them use and comprehend academic English, so they can successfully read, write, speak, and perform in formal and academic settings. Experts feel that vocabulary is an essential factor to success when it comes to language learning, comprehension and communication.

Educators use various models and activities for vocabulary building and learning at different levels. One of them is FRAYER MODEL for VOCABULARY BUILDING and CONCEPTUAL KNOWLEDGE. Let us understand more about the model and how it works.


A FRAYER MODEL is a graphic organizer that helps students determine or clarify the meaning of vocabulary words encountered while listening, reading, and viewing texts. It is used before reading to activate background knowledge, monitor vocabulary, or after reading to assess vocabulary. (Source:

This help students to learn and acquire new words by exposing them to resource materials by providing them with a structure to examine words for their definitions, characteristics, examples, and non-examples. Word learning requires multiple exposures to the word within meaningful contexts.

The model focuses on analyzing one word at a time with a prescribed technique and sequence to decode and decipher the meaning and structure of the unknown word. Photographs or illustrations may also be added to help visualize the word and interpret it better.

How to use Frayer Model?

This is how the step-wise process is implemented:

- Select a word from a self-contained passage of text.

- Establish the purpose of the strategy.

- Provide students with a Frayer Model and use a think-aloud as you model the process of using the Frayer Model to analyze the word and determine its meaning.

* Write the selected word.

* Write the characteristics of the selected word. Break it down in chunks or provide tools if needed.

* Write examples of the selected word. Break it down in chunks or provide tools if needed.

* Write non-examples of the selected word. Break it down in chunks or provide tools if needed.

* Write a definition for the selected word in your own words. Break it down in chunks or provide tools if needed.

* Check the meaning of the word with the dictionary definition.

- Have students use the Frayer Model to determine the meaning of words. Break it down in chunks or provide tools if needed.

When to use the Frayer Model?

This model can be used for a big group, a small one, or even one-on-one interactions. The educator can pre-select words and design the model to explain it to the students. Then, they can be given a common word and asked to complete the model.

For example, the turtle would be an excellent primary level word, while frustrated would be a good word for upper elementary school students. First, the students should find the definition of the word, preferably from the text, in their own words, then explain how the characteristics of a word help them visualize a turtle or a frustrated person in their mind.

Using synonyms or examples of the word is great to build vocabulary. Teaching opposites through antonyms and non-examples is a great way to explain what the feature word does not mean. Comparing and contrasting words better paint a picture of a term's unique meaning and characteristics.

Once the students understand how to use the model, they can be paired with others or put in groups for assignments to explore new words.

The model's effectiveness can be assessed by the teacher's observation, through Conferencing, Student journaling, and using Frayer Model as a formative assessment.

The main idea behind using the Frayer model is to explain the importance of building vocabulary, keep the student's stress level low, and model some of the best activities for remembering and learning a new language. In addition, variations can be brought to the model by adding illustrations and images for better explanation.

Where to use the Frayer Model?

Apart from vocabulary, content area instruction in Science, Social Studies, and even Maths can also use the Frayer Model at the beginning of a unit to teach new vocabulary words. Content vocabulary is a crucial component in the understanding and comprehension of any skill, and it can either make or break a student's understanding. The Frayer Model is an effective instructional tool that helps children increase their vocabulary development, which leads to a better comprehension of reading.


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