Core Vocabulary for AAC Users

If a student is just beginning to use AAC, the number of core vocabulary words they use may still be relatively small. However, these words can be used over and over again to create complete phrases and sentences in a variety of different contexts. The most important thing is that students have access to core vocabulary whenever they need it! Using their AAC device efficiently will allow them to communicate more successfully with others by using fewer words.

Core vocabulary refers to a small set of words that account for 80% of what we say in conversation.

Core vocabulary refers to a small set of words that account for 80% of what we say in conversation. Core words are the foundation of communication and provides the framework for meaning with which we can communicate with others. It’s also the most frequently used words in language, making it more useful for AAC users than other types of vocabularies.

Core words are the basic words on which we build and expand our communication.

Core words are the basic words on which we build and expand our communication. They’re the most common words used in everyday language, and they’re often the first words we learn to use.

Core words are defined as “the most frequently occurring items in a language.” Core Vocabulary is also known as Basic Vocabulary or Common Words. In AAC this means those words that are used repeatedly across contexts, such as “I want” or “make.”

The following should be considered when selecting core words:

  • They are used frequently in everyday language
  • Once implemented into an AAC system (e.g., picture support), core vocabulary enables users to communicate about basic needs with less effort 

Core vocabulary includes many of the most frequently used words found in everyday language 

Core vocabulary includes many of the most frequently used verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, adjectives, pronouns and common nouns found in everyday language (e.g., want, more, go, here, put).

Core vocabulary can be used to communicate in a variety of different contexts:

  • At home (e.g., “I want more food.” or “Put on your shoes.”)
  • In school or at work (e.g., “Can I go play?” or “I need help writing my report.”)

To help us communicate effectively, it is critical that core words are available at all times 

 

The core vocabulary you choose for your students AAC system is the foundation of communication. It’s that set of words that we use most often and which are most likely to be understood both by ourselves and by others. Core vocabulary is also what helps us communicate effectively, rather than having to scroll through pages or switch screens on an AAC system to find the right word.

It’s important that you have access to core vocabulary at all times without having to scroll or switch pages on an AAC system! 



To communicate effectively using AAC, it is important to identify key core vocabulary words.

 

To communicate effectively using AAC, it is important to identify key core words. Core words can be selected based on the needs of an individual user and his/her communication goals. To determine which words are important for your client or student, consider the following questions:

  • What do they need to say or share?
  • How do they want others to respond?
  • What types of contexts are relevant (e.g., school, home, medical appointments)?

There is no one one way to do AAC. The key is to find an approach that works for your student and their needs. With some time and effort, you can develop a system that will help them communicate more effectively with others around them.

 

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