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Today's vocabulary word – Chimera

A “chimera” is a creation of the imagination, a foolish fancy, or an imaginary thing.

Example: “Early European travellers to Africa brought back descriptions of giraffes and elephants that were dismissed as chimeras by people who didn’t believe such things could exist.”

Today's vocabulary word – Erroneous

Erroneous” means “based on false information,” in error, mistaken.

Example:  “When the zoo reported a missing elephant, the city closed all of the schools, in the erroneous belief that the lions had also gotten loose.”

Today's vocabulary building word – Fabrication

A “fabrication” is something that’s made up – that is, a lie. A fabrication is a story, a fiction, a falsehood.

Example:  “Steven was four hours late, but his explanation that his late arrival was due to an escaped circus elephant was obviously a fabrication.”

Today's vocabulary word – Potter

The word “potter” means to mess about doing nothing in particular. In parodies, this is a common foible of an older person, or one who’s not altogether mentally sound.

Example:  “After he won the lottery, Bruce quit his job and spent every day just pottering around in the garden.”

Proven Ways to Increase Vocabulary (Part 6 of 6)

In order to quickly develop vocabulary, active learning is necessary. Active learning is the notion that learning is enhanced and best accomplished by doing. This contrasts with vocabulary instruction of old, where individuals were passive receptors of information.

According to the Texas Education Agency (2002), it is imperative that vocabulary development occur through active learning. This form of learning requires that the student be motivated; that information is converted and analyzed; and that the learner is able to connect the actual strategy of learning to what is needed to be learnt (in this case vocabulary development) (University of Melbourne, 2005).

Apart from the strategies presented above, methods for improving vocabulary using active learning can include:

  • Changing the information that is presented to you in a different layout. To increase vocabulary, this could include sentence revision or perhaps using your own words in a definition.
  • Practice the task you are learning frequently (i.e. repetition).
  • Work on projects with others. To improve vocabulary, communication with others is beneficial. Whether it is through conversation or in written form, two-way dialogue develops our knowledge of words and meanings.  
  • Change the perspective. Use different strategies above to learn the same word. This will increase the depth of understanding. 
  • Increase associations between the information and ways you can assist understanding. For example, in the case of increasing vocabulary, use diagrams, synonyms, and story innovation (University of Melbourne, 2005).

Fink (1999) explains that active learning occurs through the experience of doing and observing. It also involves a dialogue with self and others (see Figure 3). Active learning involves watching and/or listening as the task is actually performed. The doing element involves the learner physically completing the task themselves.

A Model Of Active Learning

A Model Of Active Learning

Dialogue with self refers to the contemplation and analysis post-task, whilst dialogue with others involves discussing the task. Both forms of dialogue provide richer learning experiences. In applying this concept to vocabulary development, it is necessary to have active experiences in both the written and spoken form. The passive learning of vocabulary is less efficient and effective.

Another consideration is that despite the benefits of active learning in regards to vocabulary development, do not have unrealistic expectations. To fully understand a word, only learn a few words at a time (Bromley, 2007). It is more beneficial to gain a richer understanding of a word when improving vocabulary. This will increase comprehension, as opposed to word recognition but not understanding.

Active learning promotes the meeting of existing knowledge with new knowledge (Blachowicz et al., 2006). Research shows that vocabulary development occurs when learners make semantic associations between words and then verbalize or express these meanings (Blachowicz et al., 2006). Research also demonstrates that by providing the student with definitional instruction and forms of active processing (such as writing or reworking words), learning is more effective than definitional instruction alone (Blachowicz et al., 2006).

References: Please see our reference page for the complete list

Today's vocabulary word – Parody

A “parody” is an imitation of a person, place, or thing, done in order to poke fun at them. Sometimes this is done just to be humorous, but other times a parody can be sharper, mocking someone’s mannerisms in a way intended to be hurtful.

Example:  “Jane’s parody of her French professor’s lectures had everyone laughing, but when the teacher walked into the classroom, she was not amused.”

Today's vocabulary building word – Hyperbole

Hyperbole” means an exaggeration or overstatement, used in order to emphasize a point. It’s often done in order to create a humorous effect.

Example:  “The studio’s statement that millions of people went to the movie premiere on Friday is sheer hyperbole – ticket sales show that only a few thousand people attended.”

Today's vocabulary word – Droll

Droll” means “wry” or “whimsical” or “odd, in a humorous way.”

Example:  “We all enjoyed her droll presentation on Shakespeare; it was full of witty comments comparing his play’s characters to modern movie stars.”

Proven Ways to Increase Vocabulary (Part 5 of 6)

E-learning involves instructing and learning via electronic means (such as the Internet, CD or DVD). As a strategy to develop vocabulary, E-learning has many advantages. Computer assisted learning provides a platform on which learning is both learner centered and active – both essential components for effective learning.

The programs developed to be used are of the highest quality instruction. They have been produced by experts and incorporate many of the learning strategies that have been discussed in this Post. For example, Ultimate Vocabulary’s Word Discover TM product offers over 50 usage examples, word history, visual word explorer, encyclopedia information, and images for every word. This aligns with different learning techniques previously mentioned, such as using context; using words in different ways; and repetition.

Another way that e-learning builds vocabulary more rapidly than conventional instruction is via specific tailoring. This refers to being able to pass over already known words using such technology. In a conventional classroom, learners often have to sit through instruction that they already possess knowledge on. One example of this is in Ultimate Vocabulary’s Learning Curve product that intelligently filters words that have already been learnt and no longer require work.

E-learning tools are also self-paced. In relation to vocabulary development, this is particularly important as learners are not only at different levels, but learn at different speeds. It also offers privacy in your own home, which is a bonus for some individuals who feel uncomfortable at their lack of vocabulary skills.

Interactivity, unlike that in conventional classrooms, is another bonus offered by e-learning. In vocabulary learning this is particularly important as it promotes active learning. It is active learning that reinforces knowledge and provides richer word understanding. It also offers fun learning, which increases motivation and interest. An example of this is Ultimate Vocabulary’s instant message service (Word Messenger TM) that periodically reminds the user of their current wordlist.

All of these benefits offer an environment that promotes learning and higher retention. An additional feature that has already been discussed in this post to improve vocabulary is the importance of hearing words. This is a further feature that e-learning possesses. If a person hears the correct pronunciation, they are more likely to be able to sound out the syllables to spell it, and are also able to use the above techniques to assist comprehension of unknown words (such as prefix, suffix and roots).

The final technique that can be used to increase vocabulary is that of active learning (as opposed to passive). It is essential for rapid and successful vocabulary development. We’ll be looking at that in the final post in this series.

References: Please see our reference page for the complete list

Today's vocabulary building word – Foible

A “foible is an unusual habit or mannerism, particularly one that creates vulnerability.

Example:  “He insisted on always sitting at the head of the table when he played poker. This foible prevented him from competing in the big tournaments, where seating is assigned randomly.”