Vocabulary is often the greatest obstacle that stands between a student and academic mastery. We’ve already seen that students who begin school with underdeveloped vocabularies are at a disadvantage, and the gap between word-rich and wordpoor students tends to grow over their years in school. We might say that vocabulary is the tuition of education. Without a substantial groundwork of words, students can never really buy into academic disciplines, nor can the educational system realize its intended investment in them. Let’s consider two examples of vocabulary in action. The first is a snippet of classic dialogue from the movie “The Odd Couple.” As you probably recall, Oscar (Walter Matthau) is an easy-going slob with a close circle of poker-playing buddies.