The Full Glossary Experiment

Yesterday, close to 10 students across all classes asked what auxilium meant. Oh, and here’s the excerpt from that text:


With questions like that, how often are students aware of all those glosses I intentionally put into class texts?! In the same classes, I also noticed that students were working much slower than I’d expect during Read & Translate. Surely, if they’d been reading at home the process would be much easier. Could it be that comprehension support during class time isn’t helping students read independently at home? Also, it just so happens that two new students began school this week too, so those in-text glosses certainly weren’t much help with almost every other word unknown. At what point might those in-text glosses make a difference, and what could I do to help these new students begin reading on their own?

Based on all those questions, I’ve decided to experiment…

From now on, I’ll be adding a full glossary to every text—yes, every text! It’s not as much work as you might think. Let’s face it, readers of my blog know me well enough to see that I don’t to any unnecessary planning. To create a glossary, just copy text into Voyant Tools, export the terms, copy the list, paste into your document, then add English equivalents. For a text about a page in length with a considerable amount of recycled vocab, that whole process could take about 10min. to get a glossary of 100 words (unique & different forms) on the back.

I plan to do this even for those half sheets of short texts (i.e. top half text, bottom glossary), especially seeing as I cannot foresee a case in which this goes badly. Either students could use the support of meaning being established, or they don’t need it and won’t look. I can attest to a poor reading experience when words and forms are left out of a novel’s glossary, so I can imagine what that feels like to a student reading something without a glossary at all, even a much shorter text! I also predict that this might satisfy the kind of student, though in my experience are few in number, who enjoys having lists of words around.

I’m not surprised that this might encourage more reading. One of 5 principles of extensive reading is “books are easy” (Jeon & Day 2016). If that’s the case, I can also make class texts easy, too!
Here are Voyant Tools screenshots of getting a full glossary:

Capture 1

Capture 2



Capture 4


7 thoughts on “The Full Glossary Experiment

  1. Great idea! Just because I’ve seen the word in a footnote once, doesn’t mean it is in my active vocabulary yet. A few times I have looked for a word in the back and discovered it wasn’t there. (Of course, I can use the dictionary on my phone, but it does slow me down.) I have written the translation of words like essēs, īrēsne, feriāsne, vellēsne “the would you words” in the back of my “Arma Atra” teacher’s materials book (of course I’m not a teacher :-). Keep up the great work. Jacobulus 🙂

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