Actually being around the spoken word as it is used in context is an invaluable way of increasing vocabulary. Both using and hearing new vocabulary as it is used in everyday language helps develop vocabulary (Tsuguhiko and Manning, 2007). When we are exposed to limited vocabulary, and do not implement strategies to increase it, we constrain our depth and range of word knowledge.
It is agreed that the written language is more complex because of its need to be situated in context in order to produce accurate meanings. In contrast, hearing and speaking is conveyed alongside gestures and facial expressions that promote meaning (Yopp and Yopp, 2007). In instances, an individual may appear to have significant vocabulary knowledge by the way they speak; however, in reality their non-verbal vocabulary lacks depth and scope.
In our early years, vocabulary development obviously beings with what we hear and speak. This foundation also sets us up in later years to assist comprehension and vocabulary development in writing and reading. We have more resources at our disposal to assist understanding and analysis of word meanings. Bromley (2007) states that compared to other languages English is more straightforward. That is, 21 of the 26 letters in our alphabet are consonants and all have, for the most part, similar pronunciations. Only the five vowels diverge in pronunciation.
McAndrews (2008) suggests to build vocabulary, a person should:
- Surround and immerse themselves in rich vocabulary. Being around limited vocabulary will not provide the scope that is needed to develop;
- It is better if you hear words in context so you can learn the different meanings and how they are used;
- It is also beneficial if you hear and also have the opportunity to respond. This reinforces knowledge and provides a greater understanding. Being able to hear, comprehend, analyze, and then produce a word in the form of a reply will improve vocabulary.
Turner and Williams (2007) suggest that practice and repetition in both verbal and written forms of vocabulary assists in improvement. Even in its spoken form, vocabulary knowledge involves knowing the different meanings of a word; how to use the word properly; foundational forms and derivations; associations with other words; and, any associated rules (Tekman and Daloglu, 2006). Knowing a word can be broken down into two types:
- Receptive – where the student has the ability to identify a word when they hear it spoken or read; and
- Productive – where the student can produce the word when they write and speak it (Tekman and Daloglu, 2006).
Vocabulary knowledge can also refer to the number of words a person knows and the depth at which the word is known (Tekman and Daloglu, 2006). It is common to hear and read words that you recognize but do not possess a thorough understanding of. This is where contextual clues assist comprehension in both the written and spoken environment.
Another method to improve vocabulary quickly and effectively involves e-learning. This technique for learning incorporates all the abovementioned principles and creates a fun and interactive learning experience. I’ll talk about e-learning in the next post of this series.
References: Please see our reference page for the complete list