My goal in this chapter is to review theory and practice related to vocabulary learning in adult literacy learners and to draw some implications for research, policy, and practice. Vocabulary-the extent of one’s knowledge of word meanings-has long been recognized as a key factor in reading comprehension (Davis, 1944). Vocabulary knowledge has also been identiﬁ ed as one of the most signiﬁ cant variables in the reading success of minority language learners (Fitzgerald, 1995). Given the central role of vocabulary in reading, along with the large percentage of English-language learners enrolled in ABE programs, it is surprising how few studies have focused on vocabulary acquisition and instruction in adult literacy learners.1 However, a much more extensive body of work describes
the vocabulary knowledge and skills of children and young adults, along with information about the factors that seem to inﬂ uence vocabulary growth (e.g., see Baumann, Kame’enui, & Ash, 2003; National Reading Panel, 2000; RAND Reading Study Group, 2002). As a point of departure, therefore, I rely on this research to identify trends in theory, research, and vocabulary practices that hold promise for adult literacy learners.2 For purposes of this discussion, unless otherwise noted, I use “adult literacy learners” to refer to all adults-those who are learning to read in their native language as well as those who are English-language learners.