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Word Analogies

Word Analogies allow students to link familiar concepts with new ideas—prior experiences with new information. In this strategy, students confront two related words and are challenged to explain the nature of their relationship. Next, students apply this same relationship to other word pairs.

Typically, a word analogy exercise takes this form: "Term A is to Term B as Term C is to what word?" Students think critically on two levels: first, in describing the relationship between the first word pair and, second, by suggesting new word pairs with the same relationship.

Vacca and Vacca (1996) outline the following word analogy types:

Steps to Word Analogies:

  1. Prepare students for drawing word analogies in a reading assignment by a detailed discussion of the reasoning process in making analogies and by modeling both positive and negative examples of anologies.

  2. Lead students in group exercises to identify the relationship between word pairs and, then, to extend this relationship to a second word pair.

  3. Assign students or student groups word analogy worksheets for practice in this complex task.

  4. Once students are comfortable building word analogies, choose the key words from a reading selection and create a word analogy exercise to reinforce the meanings of and relationships between these words.

Learn More:

  • Blachowicz, C., & Fisher, P. (2000)." Vocabulary instruction." In M.L. Kamil, P.B. Mosenthal, P.D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research: Vol. 3 (pp. 503-523). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

  • Hayes, D.A., & Henk, W.A. (1986). "Understanding and remembering complex prose augmented by analogic and pictorial illustration." Journal of Reading Behavior, 18, 63-77.

  • Lenski, Susan D., Wham, Mary Ann, & Johns, Jerry L. (1999). Reading and learning strategies for middle and high school students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

  • Vacca, R.D., Vacca J. (1995). Content area reading. (5th. Ed.). Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.