What is semantic mapping and why do I need to know it?

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    If you’re a teacher wondering, “What is semantic mapping and why do I need to know it?” This article will provide valuable information you can use to aid your students.

    What is semantic mapping and why do I need to know it?

    Teachers have many tools at their disposal to help their students’ reading progress. Connecting words with their meanings is undoubtedly one of the best ways for learners to adopt new vocabulary and learn new words.

    In that regard, semantic mapping serves as an excellent teaching strategy. Understanding this tool can be a big step forward for every reading teacher.

    What is semantic mapping?

    Semantic maps are essentially graphic organizers that connect prior knowledge with new concepts. Building a semantic map is similar to brainstorming but relies primarily on linking related words instead of coming up with new ideas. It may be thought of as creating mind maps for new terms.

    In this model, learners grasp the meaning of words through context clues, i.e., by understanding the semantic connection between terms. Semantic mapping consists of three components:

    1. The concept

    2. Strands

    3. Supporting information

    The concept is the central word of the map. All other terms will stem from this starting point. Strands connect to the concept and represent terms that either describe the primary keyword or relate to it semantically.

    Finally, supporting information is the additional explanation for each strand. Rather than branching out further into sub-strands, a semantic map may use this information to flesh out related concepts.

    Why is semantic mapping useful?

    Semantic mapping is ideal for reinforcing vocabulary knowledge and introducing unfamiliar words. When combined with specific vocabulary instructions, these “word maps” can bring various benefits to learners across all grade levels, especially those with learning disabilities:

    • More than a list of words, a semantic map deals with ideas and concepts. It takes students step-by-step from one concept to another, creating more powerful and long-lasting links between related terms.

    • Through concept mapping, learners can lean on their existing knowledge to grasp unfamiliar words, concepts, and ideas.

    • Combined with listening and reading, semantic webs of words may improve comprehension.

    • By following a semantic map schema – a visual representation of the connection between words – students can arrive at the meaning of previously unknown concepts with minimal assistance. Thus, the maps can help them grasp unfamiliar vocabulary words together with their meaning.

    • Semantic mapping is also helpful in terms of introducing figurative language. The technique can clarify alternative word meanings and linguistic nuances.

    How to apply semantic mapping when teaching

    According to J. E. Heimlich and S. D. Pittelman, semantic mapping shows great promise when working with students.

    Teachers can use semantic maps as a visual strategy for vocabulary development. The maps comply with ELA standards, which align with the leading language teaching strategies.

    Semantic mapping applies to small groups as well as the whole class. Teachers may achieve the best results by employing the maps before, during, and after the students read the relevant text. Rather than being a foundation of a lesson, a semantic map can be used as an instructional strategy for particularly challenging sections.

    When working with students with learning difficulties, teachers can find extensive resources on using semantic maps on PowerUp What Works.

    The steps for creating a semantic map

    The first consideration here is to understand the three types of semantic maps: web, timeline, and Venn diagram. The web type is the one most people associate with semantic maps – a central keyword connected with other terms.

    The timeline is mainly used to review historical information, while the Venn diagram is beneficial when drawing comparisons between different concepts.

    Creating a semantic web map, the most commonly used type in language learning, is quite simple.

    Start with the central word (concept) at the map’s center or top. Then, insert related terms (strands) around or below the main keyword and connect the strands with the concept via lines. Finally, add any supporting information to the strands.

    It would be best to adjust the map complexity to the grade level. Avoid introducing beginner learners to overly detailed maps or simplifying the map too much for advanced students.

    Speechify – A powerful tool for reading comprehension

    Regarding tools that help students read and understand texts easily, Speechify is at the top of available options. This text to speech service can read aloud any text, whether it’s from a website, imported documents, or photographs.

    Speechify makes comprehension easier. The service allows users to adjust narrator voices and reading speeds, customizing the listening experience according to their needs. This way, listening and reading a text simultaneously becomes nearly effortless.

    The text to speech tool supports many languages, making Speechify useful worldwide. Best of all, you can try Speechify for free today.

    FAQ

    What is an example of semantic mapping?

    Let’s take celestial bodies as one of the semantic map examples. The center of your map could say “Celestial Bodies” and branch out to the main types: stars, planets, satellites, and asteroids. Then, stars could branch out to regular, giant, and dwarf stars; planets to rocky and gaseous; satellites to spheroid and irregular; and asteroids according to size and whether they’re in a group or single.

    What is semantic mapping in teaching?

    Semantic maps are extremely useful in teaching. Students can use maps as visual representations of information, which may help them retain knowledge. Plus, memorizing visual cues can make it easier to recall information later.

    Is semantic mapping a vocabulary strategy?

    Semantic mapping isn’t exclusively a vocabulary strategy but may be used as one. In fact, using semantic maps as a vocabulary strategy is possible throughout all grade levels.

    How can I improve my semantic skills?

    Essentially, semantic skills are about connecting words with their meanings. These skills can be improved through semantic maps, crossword puzzles, and especially with adaptive tools like Speechify.

    What is a concept of a semantic map?

    In concept, a semantic map represents connections between terms and shows their correlation. The visual representation is supposed to create associations based on word meanings.

    What is the difference between semantic mapping and semantic web?

    Although semantic mapping and semantic web may sound similar, the two concepts aren’t as closely related as they seem. Semantic mapping refers to the visual representation of information, while the semantic web is a technology used in machine learning.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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