Core Vocabulary

“Core vocabulary is a list of words that have been determined to be highly useful for communicating in both social and academic contexts.  Core vocabulary is comprised of the words that are used most commonly in the expressive communication (Yorkston, et al., 1988). The most significant traits of a core vocabulary are that it is relatively small in size and varies little across individuals or environments.” -Karen Erickson 

  • 80% of our language is considered core vocabulary
  • It allows for flexibility. It can be used across multiple situations and environments
  • We can use core words to communicate a variety of functions

Core Boards

A core board is a  powerful communication tool for our students with speech and language difficulties.  It can be used for a variety of communicative intents: Refuse, Socialize, Exchange Information, and Request.  Students learn how to utilize the core board through their communication partner modeling language for them on the board. While you talk, point to pictured symbols that match the words you are saying. Not every word will be available — it’s okay, just point to the words that are.


Below are links to Wayne RESA’s core vocabulary boards that we use in speech therapy and within the classroom.  We encourage you to use the 108 icon board to allow more access and more opportunity for language; however, if it is too much at this time, please feel free to use the other attached boards.