Core Vocabulary

What is core vocabulary?

  • Relatively small number of words that constitute the vast majority of what is said in normal communication
  • Messages commonly used by a variety of individuals that occur very frequently
  • Determined by analysis of operationally and socially competent people who use AAC
  • With a few hundred words, a person can say over 80% of what is needed (Vanderheiden & Kelso, 1987)

High-frequency words have two components:

General core vocabulary - high-frequency words that are of general conversational use (e.g., pronouns, articles, and prepositions)

Personal core vocabulary - words frequently used by a particular individual that are not frequently used by others (e.g., names of people and places)

Consistent across:

  • Population (toddlers/preschoolers, adolescents, adults, elderly, people who use AAC)
  • Environments (home, restaurants, malls, churches, hospital)
  • Topics (work, food, family life, gossip, education)
  • Activities (talking on the phone, eating, shopping, playing games, hobbies)

Top 30 core vocabulary words that everyone should have on his or her communication display:

  • all done/finished
  • all gone/gone bad
  • different
  • good
  • more
  • what
  • not/don't
  • that
  • this
  • I/name 
  • it
  • you/your
  • again
  • ready
  • do/does/did
  • help
  • look/see
  • stop
  • want
  • big
  • little
  • away
  • come
  • drink
  • eat
  • get
  • give
  • go 
  • live

*Information gathered from the work of Gail M. Van Tatenhove

PDF Format of Core Vocabulary Resource