EXCELLENT IDEAS ON WHAT TEACHERS WANT FROM PARENTS @ HIGH SCHOOL

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IN MY TWENTY-FIVE YEARS in the teaching profession, there have been moments where I felt parents to be overbearing, and working with them caused the most dedicated teacher to burn with frustration.

But from the parents’ perspective, dealing with teachers can be an anxiety-ridden and an exasperating ordeal. The biggest problem stemming from this disconnection between parents and teachers is that students are caught in the middle, and at times, if not handled well, their potential to advance, is hindered.

pexels-photo-256548.jpegThe relationship between teachers and parents is an extremely powerful component in a student’s success story. Yet, so many parents go through the school year without communicating with the teacher or understanding what to do (or avoid) to make the most of the year. But while most of us would hope to behave rather better when it comes to dealings with our children’s teachers, there are many among us, who are found wanting in many aspects. In short, are we really giving the profession our full respect?

Just consider this . . .

  • Top American teaching guru, Ron Clark points out: “Today, new teachers remain in our profession for an average of just four and a half years, and many of them list ‘issues with parents’ as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel.”
  • Kevin Rooney, Head of Social Science at a school in the UK insisted: “We need to let parents be parents and let teachers teach. A pressing issue is the loss of teacher autonomy in the classroom.”

Whether it’s outright hostility or a loss of respect, many teachers would say it’s not just the students who need lessons in how to behave – but that parents too, might benefit from a few do’s and don’ts.

So, being more proactive means going inside the mind of a teacher to discover what parents should and shouldn’t do to make the most of the school year.

17 Things English Teachers Want Parents To Know @ High School

Teachers carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to the classroom. Not only are they in charge of the learning experience for each student, but they’re also in charge of the well-being of each student in their care. The load is heavy but could be lightened with some help and understanding from parents.

Here are 17 things English Teachers @ High School really want parents to know to help make the educational experience run a little smoother.

1. BE INVOLVEDYes, teachers do want parents to get actively involved. But that doesn’t mean thinking you know better when it comes to the English curriculum decisions, or what marks to give your oh-so gifted offspring.

What it does mean is more than just turning up to parents’ evenings but that a parent’s involvement helps students learn, improve schools and helps teachers work with you to help your children succeed.

So, keep communication lines open, checking in every so often to raise any questions you may have. If possible, volunteer to help occasionally – or ask the teachers if there is anything you can do at home.

2. CHECK UP ON YOUR CHILDRENPlease do look at their timetables and go through their folders with them regularly – so they know you’re on top of what they should be doing. You will be surprised that even those in senior year have some deficiencies. Check on them, please.

And read every letter and report that’s sent home with your child.

3. BE ORGANIZED – You can’t be expected to know about the letter you need to sign if it’s crumpled in the bottom of the bag. Establish a routine where your child clears out their bag nightly so you get any important letters and homework doesn’t disappear into the black hole.

4. HOMEWORK IS FOR STUDENTS – There’s a fine line between helping and taking over. It’s important to review your little one’s English homework, but if he or she gets an answer wrong don’t just tell them the right answer – help them understand why.

“Homework is for children not parents – if it’s really beyond their capabilities, let the teacher know.”

5. LET YOUR CHILD MAKE MISTAKES – We, English teachers don’t want perfect students only; we want students who try hard. Don’t get caught up in thinking every assignment has to be perfect. It’s important for teachers to see where a child is going wrong, so they can go over the material again.

6. DON’T LEAP ON THE DEFENSIVE – Remember, teachers are usually in the job because they want to teach – not because they’re out to get you/your child.

So, if you’re told there is a problem with your child’s behaviour, don’t jump to their defence – LISTEN to what the teacher has to say. As one quips: “Don’t automatically believe everything your child tells you and, in turn, we won’t believe everything they say about you!”

Tiffany Jean Williams-Solod said: “As a teacher (oh yes, I am both) I want parents to stop blaming teachers and start working with us. We can’t fix everything, but remember we are humans and we aren’t perfect. Also, teach your kids to respect us.”

7. TRUST IN THE TEACHER’S FEEDBACK  Just because a child doesn’t exhibit a particular behavior at home doesn’t mean s/he doesn’t exhibit that behavior in the classroom. So, if a teacher reports a particular behavior that you haven’t seen before, don’t rush to say, “Well, I’ve never seen my child do that.” The classroom and home environments are quite different, and often times, children behave differently when forced to follow rules and work with peers. LISTEN to what the teacher has to say and work with him/her to find a solution.

Ron Clark wrote: “We are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it.”

8. RESPECT THE TEACHER – Remember that the teacher is on your side. Teachers truly care about your children and want them to be successful.

Nelson explains: “The child’s success is our success. If your child’s teacher contacts you about a problem or something that happened at school, understand that the teacher is trying to work with you to resolve any conflicts that may be getting in the way of your child’s success. We’re all on the same team.”

Similarly, don’t talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child as Ron Clark points out: “If your child knows you don’t respect their teachers they won’t either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.”

9. DON’T SHOW UP FOR A MEETING UNANNOUNCED It’s great if you want to meet with the English teacher to discuss an issue or chat about your child, but don’t show up at school without any warning. Instead, schedule a time to meet—not only does this show that you respect the teacher’s time, but it also gives him/her time to prepare for the meeting and provide you with everything you want to know. Always give an agenda for your meeting.

10. MANNERS ARE IMPORTANT – Good manners go a long way in a student’s life as one teacher pointed out: “As much as I treat all students equally, the child who remembers to say ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘excuse me’ is thought of more fondly.” This also means parents must always address behavior issues at home. The English saying, “the apple does not fall very far from the tree” is quite apt. It is a strong reminder for us as parents!

“Children don’t enjoy getting in trouble, so when they come home and tell you about how mean the teacher is, keep in mind they may be telling the story in a way that they won’t get punished.”

If this happens, try to get to the heart of the issue and uncover the facts so you can address it.

11. IF THE TEACHER IS DOING SOMETHING RIGHT, LET THEM KNOW – Buck the trend and send an email or call when your child enjoys a class event, or says something nice about their English Teacher. It can make all the difference. And if you’re really pleased, why not let the head know? Surely, who doesn’t need praise and recognition?

Cindy Hoffman. “We’re in a partnership, trying to do the best for the children as possible. Please don’t treat us as adversaries.”

12. IF THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG, DON’T OVERREACT – If there’s something you’re not happy about, speak to the teacher first rather than going straight to the head/head of year.

As one teacher wryly says: “If you’ve got a problem, come and see me first, going straight to the head is just rude. Next time I have a problem with little Jamie and your parenting style, I’ll ring your boss and see how you like it.”

This also means . . .

13. GIVE TEACHERS TIME TO RESPOND – Communication between teachers and parents is a positive thing especially when it helps keep both sides on top of the student’s work and performance levels. However, teachers would like parents to remember that they are not the teacher of just one child, but of many and this means giving the teacher time to respond.

Communicate with the teacher and then wait. Give the teacher a few days to respond before sending a second note or calling and accusing the teacher of not paying attention to the note. You’ll be amazed how much better the response will be when an appropriate amount of response time is given.

Tiffany Jean Williams-Solod, can relate to both worlds – “As a parent, I want my child challenged every single day, and if she doesn’t get it, please tell me so I can assist you. Don’t be afraid to tell me if my child disrespects you.”

14. PARENT PRAISE IS IMPORTANT for Students – Teachers have a way of knowing which student is receiving positive feedback and encouragement from parents at home and which student isn’t. It shows in how the student performs in the classroom.

Students who are praised for their hard work at home tend to strive even more to continue performing well at school. However, students who don’t receive praise in any form from their parents often take on a nonchalant attitude at school. For instance, if no one really cares how well or how bad the student does in school, then the student may assume there’s no point in trying.

Parents need to cheer for their children and take an active role in praising them for a job well done.

15. THE HOME IS A CLASSROOM TOO – While teachers are responsible for educating students in a broad variety of subjects, they can’t be responsible for teaching students everything. Basic life lessons in how to treat others, knowing right from wrong, learning how to cook, etc need to be taught at home by the parents.

Life skills can help students prepare for situations at school and in life. Parents can help increase their student’s knowledge by using the home as a learning environment as well.

16. PARENTS, BE A PARTNER INSTEAD OF A PROSECUTOR – Parents need to know that it’s OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong.

This equally means . . .

17. PLEASE, QUIT WITH ALL THE EXCUSES –  This is similar to #6 but here teachers really want to help your children be successful, so stop making excuses for them. Thus, some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn towards excuses and do not create a strong work ethic.

If you don’t want your child to end up at 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren’t succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions by involving their teachers.

On a final note, please remember that teachers are not perfect humans and you are not a perfect parent, but we are working together for the best of this child. Let us keep it that way.

I am a Teacher and a Parent myself, so, the above issues are a general overview of what I have experienced over the years.

There are many excellent parents out there who want the best and work well with their children’s teachers. Please keep it up! If you have fallen short in some areas, it is never too late to make amends. Go for it!

Exper Experience

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

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Trust Me: THE SIMPLE, YET EFFECTIVE WAYS TO GET CREDIBILITY FROM COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS & STUDENTS ALIKE

Happy new year, dear folks.

Whilst pursuing a Masters in Education: Leadership and Management, one of the key modules was entitled SLOM [Strategic Leadership, Organization and Management]. The module was an eye opener in many ways as, among other notables, it focused on types of educational management based on trust. The emphasis was simple:

Being trustworthy is fundamental to establishing credibility.

However, as people are unlikely to tell you that they don’t trust you, it can be difficult to measure. Here we look at the importance of others having confidence in you, and how you can develop relationships built on trust.

pexels-photo.jpgHow Trust Works

Trust is slightly unusual in the sense that it’s usually afforded in advance but is then tested afterwards. For example, a friend may ask you to do them a certain favour, and they have faith that you’ll do it. With this trust in place, you have to be careful not to abuse it.

If you’re a person who is honest and genuine in their dealings, people will have confidence in you. It’s not necessarily difficult to gain someone’s trust (a lot of that is dependent on the other person), but it will always take integrity.

In order for others to trust you, on a personal level, they need to know that:

  • They can share their thoughts and feelings with you, and that you’ll respect them for it, even if you don’t agree with them.
  • You will not spread their personal thoughts indiscriminately, or use this knowledge to gain an advantage over them.
  • When they ask for your help, you will be supportive and offer constructive advice or assistance.
  • There is respect between you, which in turn informs a positive and beneficial relationship.
  • You will treat them in a fair, open and honest way.
  • You can be relied upon to deal with situations in a dignified manner, and in a way that displays integrity.

The Importance Of Trust At Work

Trust is equally significant when forming working relationships. Whenever you make a decision about someone, it plays a major part in your thinking process. Consider this:

  • When an organization fosters relationship and trust-building behaviors, employees focus on the work they were hired to do and productivity increases.
  • When trust is damaged, morale and productivity begin to decline and turnover increases.
  • Alternatively, as trust is a two-way process, the same applies whenever someone else is making a decision about you. For example: Can I trust them to get this finished on time? Can I trust them to deliver quality work? Can I trust them with this confidential information?

During my sojourn Down Under, I came across this book: Organisational Behaviour: Leading and Managing in Australia and New Zealand, by Robbins, Millett, Cacioppe and Waters-Marsh which identifies five dimensions that underpin the concept of trust:

  • INTEGRITY – Integrity is consistently demonstrating honesty and truthfulness be it in giving feedback, acknowledging and accepting successes and mistakes of others as well as relaying and communicating relevant information. Integrity seems to be rated the most critical characteristic, as a positive perception of another’s moral character and basic honesty; the other dimensions of trust begin to have meaning once integrity is established.
  • CONSISTENCY – This is having strong credibility, reliability, predictability and good judgment in handling any situation.
  • OPENNESS – It is showing a genuine willingness to share ideas and information freely and openly; ensuring feelings, experiences, and concerns can be aired safely.
  • LOYALTY – This is when demonstrating a willingness to protect and positively represent teams and individuals; as well as retaining confidentiality.
  • COMPETENCE – This is possessing technical and interpersonal knowledge and skills including the ability to initiate new ideas, to be creative and communicating relevant information.

To help with this, it’s important you feel you are working in an environment that inspires trust. Just by being trustworthy yourself, you can have a positive impact and promote this culture.

Love SignEssential Ways On Building Trust 

By working effectively, and respecting your colleagues, you’ll find that trust builds naturally. However, these additional pointers should also help:

  • Understand why people trust you. People will trust you based on their personal experience and knowledge of your performance. If they know that you can do something, they will trust you to do it again, as well as similar related tasks. By constantly delivering and demonstrating your high standards, you can encourage others to increase their belief in your abilities. Trust will develop as your reputation as a high performer increases.
  • When you don’t do the right thing, admit it. Be transparent, authentic and willing to share your mistakes and faults. When you are vulnerable and have nothing to hide, you radiate trust.
  • Spread your trust factor. People remember you for your actions, good and bad! If you’ve made a success of something, don’t hide it. It’s not boasting to highlight a particular achievement; you’re merely demonstrating your effectiveness. Align your actions with results – trustworthy people can afford to let their track record speak for them, so make it a focus point.
  • Show people you care about them. When people know you care about their interests as much as your own they will trust you. If they know you are out for yourself, their internal alarm sounds and they will say to themselves “watch out for that person.”
  • Keep your promises. If you make a mistake or miss a deadline, admit to it rather than hope it goes unnoticed. Take steps to redress the situation and reassure people when objectives will be met. Always be clear in your own mind how you’re going to achieve your goals and keep communicating your progress to those involved.
  • Trust generates commitment; commitment fosters teamwork; and teamwork delivers results. When people trust their team members they not only work harder, but they work harder for the good of the team.
  • Trust is built one day, one interaction at a time, and yet it can be lost in a moment because of one poor decision. Make the right decision.

In this spirit, I have endeavoured sharing some thoughts about how we can build the trust that is essential for great relationships. Many of the suggestions above are already known and most of the ideas are common sense. However, I’ve found that so often amidst the chaos of life and work we forget the simple and powerful truths that matter most.

I leave you with a quote from Ernest Hemingway which goes: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAYS OF TEACHING VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL 2

The importance of vocabulary knowledge to school success, in general, and reading comprehension, in particular, is widely documented. Becker, 1977; Anderson & Nagy, 1991

This is the last of three related posts on this interesting topic on vocabulary @High School. The other two posts can be accessed here are entitled:

The acquisition of vocabulary is one of the most important tasks in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.

In short, vocabulary acquisition is much more important than grammar. The grammar we have is acquired gradually as we become familiar with the language, with the words, but first of all, we need words.

Explore Learn Grow

A. How Do We TEACH Vocabulary?

Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence.

RESEARCH has brutally exposed a long held belief on . . .

Least Effective Strategies On Teaching Vocabulary through . . .

  • copying definitions
  • writing sentences
  • memorizing definitions from a vocabulary study sheet
  • asking students to use context for unknown words when there is little contextual support.

Most Effective Strategies On Teaching Vocabulary are through . . .

  • direct, explicit instruction of words in context
  • using simple conceptual maps
  • teaching specific context clues
  • selecting meaningful words to teach
  • increasing independent reading
  • directly teaching word learning strategies connecting new concepts/meanings to existing knowledge base.

Just as increasing vocabulary knowledge should occur on a continuous basis, so should vocabulary instruction. The following  four steps in teaching new vocabulary words have been used extensively.

It is important that teachers make sure that their students use:

  1. Explicit Instruction of Using the Vocabulary Word Correctly: [I do it] – Students hear their teacher explicitly give a student-friendly definition and then see her or him model how the vocabulary term is used.
  2. Guided Instruction: [We do it] – Students have opportunities to use new vocabulary while the teacher is there to “help with the tricky parts” and is circulating around the classroom to make sure that students are using the word correctly and giving corrective feedback when needed.
  3.  Collaborative Learning: [You do it together] – Students are given lots of opportunities to clarify and refine meaning and usage in the company of peers. Students teach other students how to use the word correctly/verifying the correct definition. An extended version would be using oral language to communicate the meaning in different contexts and having groups of students complete assignments involving semantic mapping or other graphic organizers.
  4. Independent: [You do it alone] – Students practice use of the term in independent reading, writing, discussion, and assessment.

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B. Six Step Process For Teaching Vocabulary

Marzano (2004) has developed a six step process for teaching vocabulary to students of all ages. While the vocabulary needs of students increase over time, these same procedures can be used on a frequent basis with all students of varying abilities across all content areas. The effective techniques on how to use these six steps follow the description of Marzano’s Six Step Process for Teaching Vocabulary.

Marzano’s six steps for teaching new words can be used with all students (K-12), including those with learning disabilities.

  • Use the first three steps to introduce new words to students.
  • The next three steps give students multiple exposures of the new word for review and retention.

The six steps are as follows:

Step 1: EXPLAIN— The teacher provides a student-friendly description, explanation or an example of the new term. (This is where the teacher explicitly states the definition that will make sense to the students.)

Step 2: RESTATE— Teacher asks students to restate the description, explanation or example in their own words. (Students could add the term to their notebooks or to a chart in the classroom, followed by the following step.)

Step 3: SHOW— The teacher asks students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representation of the term. (If possible, ask students to come up with an antonym or synonym to the new word.)

Step 4: DISCUSS—The teacher engages students periodically in structured vocabulary discussions that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks. (Have students use new words in oral sentences or use the new words in questions you ask your students.)

Step 5: REFINE AND REFLECT—Periodically, the teacher asks students to return to their notebooks to discuss and refine entries. (When another new word comes up, try to mention previously learned words as similar or different.)

Step 6: APPLY IN LEARNING GAMES— The teacher involves students periodically in games that allow them to play with new terms. (Examples to try: Jeopardy, Name that Word, Bingo, and Concentration.)

C. The Four P’s of Vocabulary Acquisition

PROVIDE opportunities for reading wide and reading volume with accountability.

PRE-VIEW the text to determine which words to teach.

PRE-TEACH meaningful words and phrases.

PROVIDE direct instruction and multiple exposures of the vocabulary in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

D. Importance of Vocabulary to Reading

Some conclusions which research has established include that  . . .

  • There is a strong relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension.
  • Vocabulary knowledge is linked to overall academic success.

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Vocabulary Strategies: Before, During And After Reading

Before Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Use explicit instruction to pre-teach unfamiliar important words from the text that will help build background knowledge, and those words that are critical for students’ understanding of what they are reading.
  • Help students relate new vocabulary to their prior knowledge and experiences, as well as to previously read text.
  • In longer, multisyllabic words, teach meanings of root words, prefixes and suffixes so that students can recognize these morphographs in unknown words to help them determine their meanings. Review these morphographs in new words that may be unfamiliar to students as needed.
  • Have students use mapping techniques, such as Semantic Mapping and other graphic organizers to help them think about other words that share the same meanings or that have the same roots. For example, teaching the root ‘tele’ which means from afar, can be used to teach telescope, telephone, telepathic, television, and telegraph.

During Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Teach students to use prefixes, suffixes, and familiar word parts to decode new words and determine their meanings.
  • Teach students how to use the structure of both narrative and expository text to figure out word meanings. Although this strategy does not always help with determining an unknown word’s meaning, it is one that students should try to use while reading, especially on assignments done independently.
  • Expand on word meanings that were defined in the textbook in context to ensure students’ understanding of these new words.
  • Have students add new words and concepts to their semantic maps and graphic organizers they began prior to reading.
  • Use content-area word walls as a resource for students to use when they need help remembering a word’s meaning.

After Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Have students use their own words to explain the meaning of new words in the way it was used in the text, as well as using it in other contexts.
  • Play vocabulary games (e.g., using synonyms, antonyms, roots, concepts) to provide enrichment of new word meanings.
  • Have students copy their word wall vocabulary  in any order that they wish. Play a game like Bingo, but instead of just calling out the word, say a short definition and then the students will cover the vocabulary word that matches the definition.

E. Words are learned indirectly as research concludes . . .

  • Rarity and variety of words found in children’s books is greater than that found in adult conversation!
  • More words are learned through reading than from spoken language.
  • So read, read, read!!!

Good luck in all your endeavours

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAYS OF LEARNING VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL 1

I have three related posts on this interesting topic:

SOME researched comments on how VOCABULARY affects comprehension include:

  • Vocabulary knowledge is directly related to comprehension.
  • Increased vocabulary instruction increases comprehension more than any other intervention.
  • Fluent word recognition affects comprehension.

THE ACQUISITION of vocabulary is one of the most important tasks in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.

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Gathering Words – Tried and Tested Method

When I was growing up I expanded my vocabulary through collecting relevant and useful words. Here are some ways that have worked for me:

  • First, find ways to expose yourself to new words: read and listen to a variety of books, articles, television programs, and videos (see if you can find the spelling of the new word from the subtitles, if need be).
  • Next, you will record the new words that you discover. Write down new words as you hear or read them — use a notebook or flash cards to collect vocabulary.
  • Later, when you have time, look up your new words in a dictionary.
  • Write the definition and an example sentence in your notebook or flash cards. Also, as you read textbooks and class materials, pay attention to words that are used often or that are important for understanding concepts in your program.
  • You will want to take time to learn these words.

In short, vocabulary acquisition is much more important than grammar. The grammar we have is acquired gradually as we become familiar with the language, with the words, but first of all we need words.

How Do We Learn Vocabulary?

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. – Michelangelo

Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence.

Moving Words From Short-Term To Long-Term Memory

When you first hear or read a new word, it enters your short-term memory. Short-term memory can only hold new words for a brief period, usually seconds. To move the new word to long-term memory, you will need to ENCODE, STORE, and RETRIEVE the word.

1) When you ENCODE, you give meaning to the information. As you study vocabulary, you will learn the different meanings the word can have. You may also compare the English word to similar words in other languages you know.

2) To STORE the material, you will use strategies to review the word’s meaning. Regular review and repetition is important for learning new words.

3) When you use a new vocabulary word when speaking or writing, you RETRIEVE it. This creates strong knowledge of the word in your long-term memory.

Kuverenga

19 EASY WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR VOCABULARY

Set A Specific Goal

Learning new words requires a commitment. Since you’re less likely to hear sophisticated vocabulary in daily conversation, take matters into your own hands and teach yourself new words. Set a goal such as, “I’ll learn one new word each day” or “I’ll try one suggestion on this handout every day during semester break or summer.”

Spend 15 Minutes Every day Reading

As you read a novel, newspaper or a weekly newsmagazine, circle unfamiliar words. When you finish the article, return to these words and use context clues to try to determine meaning. Then look the words up in a dictionary, comparing your definition with the actual definition. Add each word, its definition, and its sentence in a vocabulary notebook or onto a web site like http://www.quizlet.com for later review.

 Use Quizlet To Review The New Words You Learn

Go to http://www.quizlet.com and enter your words. The program will generate quizzes and games custom-made for your word list.

Do Crossword Puzzles And Other Word Puzzles

Although some crossword-puzzle words are obscure or seldom used, some words will increase your vocabulary. And the information in crossword puzzles may increase your background knowledge.

Write, Look, Cover, Repeat (WLCR)

This is the ultimate classic. For me, vocabulary learning has always been a notebook and a pen. The physical motion of writing something down is very useful as it satisfies the needs of haptic learners. Take a pad, draw a vertical line in the middle and write the word on one side in your native/source language and on the other side in your target language. Memorise the list, then cover one side and tick off all that you remember. Then repeat.

“Use A Word 3 Times And It’s Yours!”

It’s that simple. If you don’t make an effort to use new words you learn, you’re likely to forget them.

Using words make them a permanent part of your vocabulary. You know common words like “cow,” “walk” and “pleasant” because you have been doing FOUR things:

  1. You’ve heard them frequently.
  2. You’ve read them frequently.
  3. They may have been taught to you.
  4. You’ve used them many times in your speech and your writing.

If you don’t routinely hear or read words like “catalyst,” “disparage” or “aberration,” use them at least three times in your writing or your speech. Gradually they will become a part of your vocabulary and ultimately you will surprise yourself and many others within your circle.

Study Linguistics

Many words are made up of parts of other words. So this one requires a bit of study, but it will make your vocabulary learning the smartest it has ever been. Become familiar with prefixes and suffixes, word roots and common sources of target language words.

In short, this means BREAK LONG WORDS INTO PARTS. If you can remember the meaning of prefixes (e.g. con-, anti-, pre-) and suffixes (e.g. -ly, -able), it will be easier to predict the meaning of new words you encounter.

Use Index Cards (4 X 6) To Make Vocabulary Flash Cards.

As you try the suggestions here, don’t just read about a new word or look it up in a dictionary. Make a vocabulary flash card. On one side of an index card, write the new word, its part of speech, and its phonetic spelling including Greek or Latin word parts and on the other side, write its definition and any related word parts.

Carry these cards with you to review. Before you write papers, flip through your cards. This increases your chance of being able to use one or two of these words in your writing.

Read, Read and More Reading

The more you read, the more you learn. You will pick up new words without even realizing it when you read. Reading lets you see how words are used in sentences, and lets you understand them through context clues.

  • SAT Word List: There are even some books that are meant to teach vocabulary. These are usually written for students studying for the SATs, but they make a great tool for anyone who wants to learn English because they have definitions of many of the words right there in the book.
  • COMICS: If the SAT text is too difficult for your English level, you can try reading comic books instead. Comics have a lot of dialogue, and their text is in smaller, easier to understand parts. Superman, Batman, and the other well-known heroes are full of words for you to learn. If you don’t like superheroes, there are many other options out there, like Calvin and Hobbes or even Garfield.

Thus, it’s important to read a variety of materials. The more you expose yourself to new words, the more words you will learn.

Use Your Senses As You Learn

Associate vocabulary with pictures or gestures. This will help you recall the new words better than writing or speaking alone. Using more than one of your senses as you learn new words promotes the development of a strong word network in the brain. This helps you retrieve new words when you write or speak.

Learn New Words In Context

Use example sentences as you gather words. Try making up a funny story with new vocabulary.

As you create and use a vocabulary learning system, you will grow in your ability to understand what you hear and read. You will be able to communicate your thoughts clearly and precisely.

Related Words

If you just learned the word “care”, don’t stop there! Use a dictionary or the internet to find derivatives of that word, and expressions that use it.

For example: careful, carefree, careless, take care! See? You started with one word but quickly learned four more, and because their meaning is related, it is easier to understand and remember what each one means.

Use Context Clues

ALWAYS try to determine the meanings of words and don’t skip over unfamiliar words. Try to determine meaning by analyzing unfamiliar words and the sentences surrounding them. Careful analysis can often give you a pretty good idea of what the word means. Mark the word with a pencil.

When you finish reading, look up the word in a dictionary to see if you were close. Although context clues may not always be present, looking for them can sharpen your comprehension.

Mnemonics

These are ways to help us remember things better.

A great online resource for mnemonics is the mnemonicdictionary.com; you can type in the words you want to remember and you will see many different ways to help you memorize.

Use Vocabulary Web Sites

There are some websites with a “Word of the Day,” which may be useful for increasing your vocabulary:

These web sites have a “Word of the Day” feature. Subscribe and a new word will be sent to your e-mail address every day. This is an easy way to build your vocabulary:

Make Sentences

Making sentences helps us put everything we have learned into action: so you have learned a new word and you understand when to use it. But for the brain to remember this word in the future, the best way to memorize is by using it. Try to make sentences that use different meanings of the word you want to learn or, if it is a verb, with different tenses.

Use Specific Vocabulary Lists

Instead of studying a long list of unrelated words, use specific vocabulary lists that will help you learn the kind of vocabulary you need for your work or school.

Record Yourself

By hearing your own voice say the words out loud and feeling your mouth move, you are making even more connections in your brain.

So, use a camera, your phone or your webcam to record yourself practicing your new vocabulary words and using them in the sentences you made.

LASTLY, Dear Reader . . .

Repeat, REPEAT and REPEAT yourself 

An old English saying: “repetition is the key to success” is applicable here. To learn anything you must repeat, repeat, repeat. So every day, set aside some time to study vocabulary. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it is important that you practice a little daily. This will create a good habit.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

Thanks for reading this article on English@HighSchool, the English Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to English@HighSchool, and send me an email.

AWESOME WAYS TO RAISE YOUR VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL

red heart on a old opened book

Did you know that if you read 15 minutes a day, you will read over one million words per year?

I have three upcoming related posts on this interesting topic:

  • AWESOME WAYS TO RAISE YOUR VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL
  • FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAYS OF TEACHING VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL
  • FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAYS OF LEARNING VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL

VOCABULARY @ HIGH SCHOOL

High School scholars are exposed to a plethora of vocabulary through:

  • Using vocabulary in speaking
  • Using vocabulary words in sentences
  • Using vocabulary in context
  • Using vocabulary knowledge for effective reading
  • Using vocabulary knowledge for effective writing purposes

For those of our students taking SATs or AP English or IGCSE/GCSE exams – whatever question, a candidate chooses – vocabulary will need to be appropriate. Through using language imaginatively, so that it seems original, a student can be rewarded with high marks.

As an experienced GCSE and IGCSE Examiner at English Literature and English Language respectively, I am permitted to give full marks to written essays that meet the highest grade descriptors of the mark scheme.

Certainly, correct use of vocabulary is essential in any High School class. Whether an English Teacher uses a traditional vocabulary programme through visual techniques – flash cards, wall charts, realia, visual techniques, using illustrative situations like synonyms; or modern methods which highlight a student-centred approach focusing on individual students, group work or paired work, vocabulary remains a cog in High School English lessons. Why?

What is Research Saying About Vocabulary Acquisition?

Of particular concern to educators is the development of academic language. Although we learn oral language that enables us to speak to one another fairly easily, learning academic language is more complex because it involves abstract literacy tasks and language not customarily used in oral speech. Academic language is a second language, because all literate people must learn it to enable them to access academic content.

Direct vocabulary instruction is essential, but research indicates that students with well-developed vocabulary learn many more words indirectly through reading than from instruction (Cunningham & Stanovich, 2001). Two strategies that encourage children to read widely and deeply are to provide an array of reading materials that capitalize on their interests and to set aside time for reading during the school day and at home (Trelease, 2006). Conversations about their reading with adults and peers also strengthen students’ word learning (Biemiller & Boote, 2006).

APPROPRIATE VOCABULARY

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS use vocabulary in a variety of ways: for writing purposes; in their everyday speech in both formal and informal situation. In all cases, students must learn to use vocabulary suited to purpose and audience. For instance, if you are writing a business letter, the language should be formal. On the other hand, a letter written to friends or relatives might be informal. In all cases, a student is never encouraged to use text language in all academic circles.

The typical 21st century high school student communicates via email and text message. Consequently, many of today’s high school students need to find ways to expand their vocabulary skills. High school students who want to learn how to improve vocabulary skills, can start by making the decision to read more. It’s best if students choose books and magazines that interest them. If the reading material interests them, they are more likely to maintain the reading habit.

blur book close up dataLANGUAGE REGISTER

It is the level and style of writing and should be appropriate for the situation one is in. The appropriate language register tends to depend mostly on the 4 W’s scenario:

  • The audience (Who?)
  • The topic (What?)
  • The purpose (Why?)
  • Location (Where?)

LANGUAGE REGISTER is the level of formality with which you speak. Different situations and people call for different registers. In short, the language register determines the vocabulary structure and some grammatical usage of any given writing task.

There are five language registers or styles we are all exposed to in our writing tasks:

  1. Formal Register: It is mainly appropriate for professional writing, as in speeches, e.g. sermons or announcements; letters to your boss or strangers.
  2. Informal Register: This is also called casual or intimate register used by peers or friends. It is conversational in nature, as in slang or colloquialisms and spoken by buddies, teammates, email chats and text messages, or letters to friends.
  3. Static Register: This type of register rarely or never changes. It is “frozen” in time and content. The common examples include the Lord’s Prayer, the laws passed by governments, bibliography/reference.
  4. Consultative Register: This is a standard form of communication where users engage in mutually formal and according to societal expectations. It uses professional discourse as in teacher and student situation; when strangers meet, or a lawyer and a client.
  5. Intimate Register: It is private in nature reserved for close family members or intimate people. The husband and wife, or parent and children conversations are good examples.

SIMPLE WAYS TO EARN WIDE VOCABULARY

The core to earning a top grade mark involves the mastery of an array of skills, chief among which is using extensive vocabulary. This means students must never ever try to make their writing look more academic by using “clever” words for their own sake. Instead, always understand that there is a difference between a person’s passive vocabulary (the words s/he understands) and a person’s active vocabulary (the words s/he actually uses).

To overcome this dilemma, students must be encouraged to:

  • Avoid repetition and aim for variety. For example, replacing the word “serious” with “grave” or “important”. Something bad may be replaced by such words “terrible, awful, tragic, mind-numbing, shattering, and cataclysmic”.
  • Use words appropriate to the context. Unless it is necessary, using informal language like contractions (shortened words with missing letters from the original); slang words (casual word conversations); abbreviation (shortened forms of words or phrases); clichés (overused expressions or ideas); colloquialisms (words, phrases, ideas or expressions characteristics of ordinary or familiar conversations) should be avoided.
  • Being aware of commonly misused words. Some words are commonly misused thereby making the meaning the vague and ambiguous, eg: accept vs. except, affect vs. effect
  • Choose specific verbs. When analyzing or reporting information or ideas gathered from reading, it is important to use a variety of words that suit your purpose. Rather than using words such as “say”, “show” or “report” all the time, one can use more specific verbs in academic reporting, eg: denotes, alleges, challenges.
  • Increase your vocabulary by learning to use CONTEXT CLUES – hints that an author gives to help define a difficult or unusual word. The clue may appear within the same sentence as the word to which it refers, or it may follow in a preceding sentence – so that you can teach yourself new words every time you read.
  • Increase your vocabulary by learning to use WORD PARTS so that you can figure out word meaning by looking at their prefixes, siffixes and roots, eg:

Prefixes – When a group of letters having a special meaning appears at the beginning of a word, we call that group of letters a prefix. Following is a list of the most frequently used prefixes that account for 97% of prefixed words in printed English.

Prefix Meaning Example
dis- opposite defrost
in-, im-, il-, ir- not injustice, impossible
re- again return
un- not unfriendly

Roots – Word roots are the words from other languages that are the origin of many English words. About 60% of all English words have Latin or Greek origins. Roots give words their fixed meaning. Prefixes and suffixes can then be attached to the roots to form new words.

Root Meaning Example
bio life biology, biography
chron time chronology, sychronize
fer carry transfer, inference
geo earth geography, geode
nom name nominate, nomenclature
tele distant telegraph, telepathy

Suffixes – A group of letters with a special meaning appearing at the end of a word is called a suffix. Here is a list of 6 important suffixes. Following is a list of the 6 most frequently used suffixes that account for 97% of prefixed words in printed English.

Suffix Meaning Example
-ed past-tense verbs hopped
-ing verb form/present participle running
-ly characteristic of quickly
-s, -es more than one books, boxes
-able, -ible able to be manageable, defensible
-ful full of wishful
  • Choosing strong verbs. Academic writers prefer strong verbs to phrasal verbs (verb + preposition), e.g:
    • Establish instead of set up
    • Produce instead of churn out
    • Tolerate instead of put up with
    • Assemble instead of put together
  • Use appropriate transitions – Connectives or transitions are important in the development of an academic essay. They develop a sense of coherence and provide signposting for the reader to follow the writer’s thread of thought.          By using transitions to join paragraphs and ideas together, a writer can use    them to clarify ideas, eg:
    • To order ideas, e.g: Firstly, …, Finally . . . , To begin with . . .
    • To give reasons, e.g: Therefore, . . . , Consequently, . . . ; As a result . . .
    • To offer alternatives, e.g: On the other hand, . . . ,
    • To develop a train of thought, e.g: Yet, . . . , Nevertheless, . . . .
  • Avoid redundancy. Being concise is the key. To write an effective essay is never easy; it requires a lot of practice. So always aim to write precisely and concisely, using only as many words as are necessary to convey what you want to say, eg: e.g., Blatantly obvious: Things that are blatant are obvious. Close proximity: To be in proximity to something is to be close to it. Try close to or in proximity to instead.
  • Try using synonyms – a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase. You should aim to use these in your writing instead of relying on the same words all of the time, eg: Do — execute, enact, carry out, finish, conclude, effect, accomplish, achieve, attain; Decide — determine, settle, choose, resolve
  • Read widely, read a variety of things so that you will exposed to thousands of new words each month. Keep a vocabulary journal to record that interesting words you find, or make word cards so that you can see your vocabulary growing. Reading a variety of materials is a fundamental way for students to boost their vocabulary skills. For instance, reading books written in different time periods is one of the best ways to improve vocabulary. For the high school student who wants to improve vocabulary skills, he or she can begin to read the literary classics.
  • Look for word games and puzzles online, eg: Interactive Word Games: http://www.wordplays.com; http://www.pogo.com/
  • Test yourself and have fun at the same time, eg: SAT Vocabulary Tests on vocabtest.com offers the eager student ready to learn, free vocabulary tests, which are the best way to boost your verbal skills.
  • Reading works by unfamiliar authors – A great way to gaining exposure to new words, improving vocabulary and making it a point to look up any unfamiliar words you encounter.
  • Use your new words from time to time in conversations.
  • Learn vocabulary through a specific academic subject – For instance, when I want to improve my vocabulary in the subject of history I read biographies of famous historical figures. The vocabulary words in those works can be very helpful in understanding the material in a history course. Alternatively, I can improve my vocabulary in math by reading about famous mathematicians.
  • Use the library to find other resources for building your vocabulary. The bookstores have “Word for Today” calendars, crossword puzzles, and vocabulary word card boxes.
  • You can also use Online Flash Cards (Most are free) at http://www.flashcardexchange.com/; http://www.flashcardmachine.com/; http://quizlet.com/

The top tip is to practice where you feel short. That way you will see yourself getting better every day.

I wish you the best in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (8)

Please note the differences:

HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but have different meanings.

wait (the verb) and weight (how heavy something is)
they’re (they are) and their (belonging to them) and there (adverb of place)

HOMONYMS are a kind of homophone, words that are written and said the same way but have different meanings.

Examples of HOMONYMS are:

  • book           – something we read and . . .
  • book           – to schedule something.
  • Spring        – the season and . . .
  • spring         – to jump up.
  • club            – somewhere to dance and . . .
  • club            – large, heavy object that people get hit with.

HOMOGRAPHS are words that are written the same way, but pronounced differently.

Examples of HOMOGRAPHS include:

  • to wind a clock but blowing wind.
  • rose, the flower and rose, past tense of the verb to rise.
  • book – something we read and book – to schedule something

pexels-photo-256417.jpegIncluded here are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of HOMOPHONES. To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to strengthen your understanding of the homophone word/s.

Please note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. its/it’s

  • Its means belonging to it: The cat chased its tail.
  • It’s means it is: It’s very hot in Florida in August!

2. passed/past

  • Passed is the past tense of to proceed without pause: I passed the old school on the way to my grandmother’s house.
  • Past means no longer current or over: Dinosaurs roamed the earth in the past.

3. quiet/quite/quit

  • Quiet means an absence of noise: The students were all quiet.
  • Quite means entirely or completely: That is not quite the right thing to do.
  • Quit means to stop, especially a job: He quit after three months.

4. forbear/forebear

  • Forbear is to refrain, abstain, desist: Tad could not forbear a smile.
  • Forebear is an ancestor: A generation of my forebears have lived here.

5. freeze/frieze

  • Freeze is to turn to ice: The water will freeze over night.
  • Frieze is a decoration along a wall: It was the best frieze ever.

6. grisly/grizzly

  • Grisly is gruesome, revolting: We were shocked by the grisly crimes.
  • Grizzly is a type of bear: The grizzly bear was angry.

7. hoard/horde

  • Hoard is a store, a collection: Pearl came back to rescue her little hoard of gold. 
  • Horde is a large crowd of people: There was a horde of rugby fans.

8. imply/infer

  • Imply is to suggest indirectly: Do you imply passing by or not?
  • Infer is to draw a conclusion: From the data provided, we can infer that all is not well.

9. loath/loathe

  • Loath is being reluctant, unwilling: I was loath to leave.
  • Loathe is to hate, intense dislike: She loathed him on sight. 

10. militate/mitigate

  •  Militate is to be a powerful factor against: These arguments will militate against us coming together.
  • Mitigate is to make less severe, serious: The drainage schemes have helped to mitigate this problem. 

11. pour/pore

  • Pour is to flow or cause to flow: The water poured off the roof.
  • Pore is a tiny opening, a hole; to study something closely

12. practice/practise

  •  Practice is the use of an idea or method; the work or business of a doctor, dentist, etc.
  • Practise is to do something repeatedly to gain skill; to do something regularly

13. prescribe/proscribe

  • Prescribe is to authorize use of medicine; to order authoritatively: Her doctor prescribed sleeping tablets.
  • Proscribe is to officially forbid something: Strikes remain proscribed in the armed forces.

14. principal/principle

  • Principal is the most important; the head of a school: The principal ideas were there for all to talk about.
  • Principle is a fundamental rule or belief: The basic principles of justice are important for us all.

15. stationary/stationery

  • Stationary means unmoving: The bus was stationary.
  • Stationery refers to writing materials, eg: papers, pens, eraser, etc: We went to the stationery shop.

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the HOMOPHONES mistakes.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

 

 

HOMOPHONES: MOST COMMONLY CONFUSED WORDS @ HIGH SCHOOL (7)

Please note the difference between HOMOPHONES and HOMOGRAPHS:

HOMOPHONES are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Fo example, . . .

  • wait (the verb) and weight (how heavy something is)
  • they’re (they are) and their (belonging to them) and there (adverb of place)

HOMOGRAPHS are words that are written the same way, but pronounced differently.

Examples of HOMOGRAPHS include:

  • to wind a clock but blowing wind.
  • rose, the flower and rose, past tense of the verb to rise.
  • book – something we read and book – to schedule something.

Included here are sets of commonly used and sometimes confused sets of homophones. To help you improve spelling skills, for each word listed, I have included the most common meanings focusing on:

  • part of speech (sometimes)
  • a very brief definition
  • a sentence to further your understanding of the homophone word/s.

pexels-photo.jpgPlease note that the following scenarios are the most commonly used cases; but as is quite common in our language, there are always exceptions!

1. write/right/rite

  • right (adj.) means correct: The student gave the right answer to the math question.
  • write (v.) is to make letters: Please write you name at the top of the page.
  • rite (n) means a religious social custom or solemn ceremony or act: The religious rites were strictly followed.

2. road/rode/rod

  • road (n.) is a driving surface: She had difficulties keeping her car on the slippery road.
  • rode (v.) is past tense of ride: We rode the bus for thirty minutes to get across town.
  • rod (n) is a thin straight bar of wood or metal: The walls were reinforced with steel rods.

 3. sail/sale

  • sail (v.) is to travel in a boat: We plan to sail across the bay.
  • sale (n.) is a deal or transaction: The store had a special sale on blue jeans.

 4. scene/seen

  • scene (n.) is the place where an event occurs: A criminal sometimes returns to the scene of the crime.
  • seen (v.) is past participle of see: I’ve never seen so many flowers!

 5. soar/sore

  • soar (v.) is to fly: An eagle can soar higher than many other birds.
  • sore (adj.) means painful: My sprained knee is very sore.

 6. sole/soul

  • sole (adj.) means only: My dad was the sole survivor of the crash.
  • sole (n.) is the bottom part of a foot or shoe: There’s a hole in the sole of my old boot.
  • soul (n.) is the spiritual part, or character, of a person: Those old hymns always comfort my soul.

7. tail/tale

  • tail (n.) is the rear part of an animal’s body: My dog wags its tail when he’s happy.
  • tale (n.) is a story: One popular fairy tale is about a giant, a beanstalk and a boy named Jack.

8. threw/through

  • threw (v.) is the past tense of throw: The kids threw the stones into the stream.
  • through (prep.) means movement from one side to, or past, the other side: Let’s walk all the way through the dark tunnel together.

9. to/too/two

  • to (prep.) means toward: We drove to the theatre.
  • too (adv.) means also: Jimmy likes pizza, too.
  • two (n.) is a symbol for 1 plus 1: Susan spun a two in the board game.

10. waist/waste

  • waist (n.) is the middle of the body: The belt was too large for her small waist.
  • waste (n.) is the discarded material: The factory’s waste products were dumped in the landfill.

11. weak/week/wick

  • weak (adj.) means not strong: The young boy was too weak to lift the box of books.
  • week (n.) is a seven-day period: The worker went on vacation for one week.
  • wick (n) is a piece of string in the centre of a candle.

 12. who’s/whose

  • who’s (contr.) is short for who is or who has: Who’s been drinking my soda?
  • whose (pron.) is the possessive form of who: Does anyone know whose coat is this one?

13. your/your’re

  • your (pron.) is the possessive form of you: It’s your turn to go first.
  • you’re (contr.) is the short form of you are: You’re the person I want to hire.

14. faint/feint

  • faint means temporarily losing consciousness and the adjective . . .
  • faint (adj) means lacking in brightness: Tad’s writing is too faint.
  • A feint is a false attack made to distract the opponent from an even more fatal blow: It was just a brief feint on the opponent’s face.

15. hole/whole/hall

  • A hole is an empty place or opening: A hole opened up in the backyard.
  • Whole means complete or entire: I ate the whole pie.
  • hall (n) is the room or space used for meetings, concerts or other events.

ALWAYS make it a habit to edit your work to avoid committing the HOMOPHONES mistakes.

writing-notes-idea-conference.jpgGood luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!