THE ACQUISITION AND DEVELOPMENT of one’s 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.

Most early readers have a bigger oral (listening and speaking) vocabulary than reading vocabulary, but this difference narrows as they develop their reading expertise.

pexels-photo-256417.jpegVOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT at High School focuses on helping students learn the meaning of new words and concepts in various contexts and across all academic content areas. Teaching students to develop vocabulary means providing explicit instruction on important words from text and helping students learn word meanings independently.

It is critical for both oral and written vocabulary development to increase as students get older to enable them to comprehend increasingly more complex grade level texts and vocabulary.

Moreover improving your vocabulary has a direct, positive impact on your capacity to build up your language proficiency as a whole. A leading linguist researcher Paul Nation notes:

“Vocabulary is not an end in itself. A rich vocabulary makes the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing easier to perform.”

When your working memory is not loaded with hesitation about the correct spelling, pronunciation and contextual use of the words, you can concentrate fully on higher level aspects of language such as using precise sentence structures and appropriate expressions for the type of conversation that is going on.

The Vocabulary Vicious Cycle

Vocabulary issues for High School students are compounded when the students are not fluent readers. Why?

Research has concluded that our richest source of learning new words beyond the age of 10 is through reading newspapers, books, magazines and just general reading. As a result, High School students with decoding difficulties will have been unable to access these print sources. Over time this can have a negative impact on vocabulary.

Thus, the cycle is like POOR Decoding leads to LESS Reading which means a student will have LESS Vocabulary which ultimately leads to POOR Comprehension.

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.

One thing that has helped many of my students is learning vocabulary through synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms. Understanding these three phenomena lead to better comprehension, better spelling, and more expressive writing.

Never Give Up

In each of the following groups, circle the item that means the same as the boldface word in the introductory phrase:

  1. A ludicrous statement:  a. sensational       b. profound           c. ridiculous
  2. In a recumbent position:  a. upright        b. uncomfortable     c. dangerous
  3. A team in disarray:  a. defeat             b. confusion           c. transition
  4. A frenetic pace:  a. relaxed             b. hectic             c. temporary
  5. In a jocular mood:  a. boring          b.humorous            c. solemn
  6. An era of concord      a. peace           b. progress                   c. strife
  7. Groused about the food:   a. appraised     b. inquired     c. grumbled
  8. Ubiquitous graffiti:     a. clever           b. obscene                 c. everywhere
  9. Fooled by his sophistry:  a. reputation      b. quibbling       c. politeness
  10. Issued a fiat:    a. decree       b. warning                  c. description
  11. Delineate our duties:  a. describe            b. neglect        c. perform
  12. Enervated by the experience:  a. strengthened     b. saddened       c. exhausted
  13. Esoteric references:  a. cryptic        b. scholarly         c. intelligible
  14. Sumptuous accommodation:  a. luxurious          b. Spartan         c. recent
  15. Mundane concerns:  a. foolish            b. financial              c. ordinary

ANSWERS: 1A  2B  3A  4B  5B  6A  7C  8C  9B  10A 11A 12C  13C  14A  15C

How did fair? Once again Dear Reader, with practice you will see your vocabulary improving so much: both written and spoken.

Lastly, ask “What does that mean?”

NEVER be afraid to ask questions! If someone uses words you don’t understand, ask them “What does that mean?” Many people are very patient and understanding when it comes to explaining. In fact, many will actually enjoy helping you!

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL!



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