• What is Core Vocabulary?

    Words can be separated into two broad categories: Core Words and Fringe Words.

    Core Words are the seemingly simple words that actually make up most of what we say in our daily lives. These versatile words tend to be verbs, pronouns, prepositions, and adjectives. Core words can be applied to many situations and for many purposes. 

    • Eat, ask, want, go
    • They, I, we, our
    • Under, on, out, beside
    • Green, bright, small, hot

    Fringe Words are what we may first think of when we imagine "vocabulary". They tend to be nouns, and can provide specificity and detail to what we communicate. Fringe words can often only be used in specific situations.

    • Birthday, daffodil, science, chair, elephant, cellphone...

    We can use the core word "go" in many situations:
    - We will go home.
    - Go away!
    - Let's go eat lunch.
    - Are you ready to go?

    We can use a fringe word like "birthday" in fewer situations:

    - It's my birthday!
    - Did you know their birthday was today?
    - Here is your birthday present.
    - Please come to my birthday party.

    Why do we use core words in therapy?

    "...it is easy to find pictures of nouns and to teach those [fringe word] concepts. It is easier to find a picture of a school bus or a bag of popcorn than a picture that describes the abstract concept of “go” (Adamson, Romski, Deffenbach, & Sevcik, 1992). However, when a student knows what “go” means and has that word available on a communication board, the impact on communication ability is far greater than that of accessing a series of nouns."
    (Canon & Edmond, 2009)


    External Resources for Core Vocabulary
    All external links on this page are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement from the Mercer Island School District of any of the products, services, or opinions of the corporation, organization, or individual.

    A few good words using core vocabulary to support nonverbal students. by Cannon, B., & Edmond, G. (2009). The ASHA Leader14(5), 20-23.

    What Are Core Words? Vocabulary to Increase Communication by Rachel Madel SLP (YouTube)

    Let's Teach Core resources for teaching individual core words from Saltillo (communication device/app manufacturer)

    Let's Learn! Core Word "More" by Special Vids for Special Kids (YouTube)