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Proven Ways to Increase Your Vocabulary (Part 2 of 6)

Categories: Vocabulary Research |

In today’s post I’d like to talk about vocabulary and reading. Don’t forget that our Vocabulary Builder Software incorporates all these techniques automatically to help you improve you vocabulary using easy steps. 
Reading is one way a learner can quickly and easily build their vocabulary. As you read, you increase your knowledge in more than one way. Not only will you learn a broader set of words, but your word knowledge will become more in-depth. The same can be true for vocabulary development and reading comprehension. An increased knowledge of words increases reading comprehension (NAEP, 2008).

If our reading comprehension is low, the ability to develop vocabulary whilst reading is also low. Knowledge of word meanings can contribute up to 70-80% of our understanding as we read (Bromley, 2007). As such, the cycle can continually feed into itself and the outcome can result in a constant improvement in vocabulary knowledge. To gain a full comprehension of a word, an individual must be exposed to that word many times and have it used within a diverse range of contexts (Yopp & Yopp, 2007). The literature also suggests that most new vocabulary is learnt via incidental learning, which can include broad reading (Yopp & Yopp, 2007).

Figure 1: Vocabulary as an Important Component of Reading.

The 4 Components of Reading

Taken from California Department of Education (2007)

Yopp and Yopp (2007) propose that vocabulary knowledge is not just important to reading but to academic success as a whole. Vocabulary awareness also has significant variance. That is, individuals can possess rich vocabulary in certain content areas but lack word knowledge in others. Individuals may also exhibit a well developed oral vocabulary, but conceal a less developed non-verbal vocabulary range.

To improve vocabulary when reading, the multisyllabic word can offer assistance. This is because words that have more than one syllable (i.e. 60% of words) can be deconstructed and meanings can be inferred (Bromley, 2007). Some ways to help build vocabulary whilst reading include:

  1. Identifying and comprehending prefixes, suffixes, and roots to make connections between the word part, the word, and the context.
    Construct a library of new words. The collection should consist of index cards with words and variations (such as plural or past tense, meanings, and sentence use) (University of Alabama, 2009).
  2. Taking note of word families (i.e. phonograms) where a letter or grouping of letters characterizes a sound.
  3. Look at syllable patterns or types.
  4. Keep a vocabulary book to write down newly learned words. Write the dictionary definition, then write your own definition in your own words, and, finally, use the word in a sentence.
  5. Examine similarities and differences in word meanings.
  6. Learn new words regularly and undertake repetition. Repeated experience of a word has been found to lead to vocabulary development (Blachowicz et al., 2006).
  7. Identify words that signal connections to other words (i.e. signal words); and,
  8. Focus upon words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings (homophones) (California Department of Education, 2007).
  9. Apart from reading, identifying and understanding how context works in word meanings can assist in developing vocabulary.

References: Please see our reference page for the complete list