Tier 2 & Tier 3 words

There are 3 tiers of words that are used when speaking English.
Tier 1 – Basic words that commonly appear in spoken language.~ Because they are heard frequently in numerous contexts and with nonverbal communication, Tier 1 words rarely require explicit instruction. Examples of Tier 1 words are clock, baby, happy and walk.

Tier 2 – High frequency words used by mature language users across several content areas.~ Because of their lack of redundancy in oral language, Tier 2 words present challenges to students who primarily meet them in print.~ Examples of Tier 2 words are obvious, complex, establish and verify.

Tier 3 – Words that are not frequently used except in specific content areas or domains.~ Tier 3 words are central to building knowledge and conceptual understanding within the various academic domains and should be integral to instruction of content.~ Medical, legal, biology and mathematics terms are all examples of these words.

Attached are Tier 2 and Tier 3 words broken down by content that students might be introduced to. Also attached is a file of Tier 2 words that places these words into families. These families include are words such as analyze. The analyze family includes words such as analyzed, analyze, and analyst etc. All of the words in the family are a variation of root word which can be used to do a different task. Please, when introducing a word such as analyze explain the definition and provide some examples of words that are in the same family.

Another way to help students interact with a Tier 2 is to create a short content-based exit ticket or entry activity to practice with the word.
This activity also incorporates a sentence frame that aides in the usage of the target word.

By doing this, students will be able to orientate themselves to the task at hand and will perform better on the task that is asked of them. Doing this will also help the LTELs who are able to lacking in the academic language they need in being able to reclassify as English Proficient.

How to teach Tier 2 words

How to teach Tier 3 words

High Mileage Word Families

High Mileage Word Families list

Tier 2/3 ELA words

Tier 2/3 history words

Tier 2/3 math words

Tier 2/3 Science words
More resources found at


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