There are several factors that are stumbling blocks to a child’s mastery of the English language – Grammar, Sentence Structuring, Composition conceptualisation, Oral, Vocabulary, and many more. Our post today will discuss the downfalls of having a poor grasp of vocabulary and how that can be overcome with some personal effort.
Without a good vocabulary foundation, children’s essay writing skills or comprehension skills often suffer. Inadequate adjectives result in a less descriptive and less detailed scenes. Kids shun thicker books to avoid encountering more incomprehensible “difficult’ words.
Further, wrong usage of words will not carry the child’s point across effectively or turn into funny english mistakes.
Here we highlight a few tips to help your child discover their true linguistic potential:
1. Download a dictionary and thesaurus app.
In this digital age and highly wired society, almost everyone has a smartphone, including children and teenager. While we are not encouraging children to own a smartphone. It will be helpful for those who do have smartphones to download a dictionary and thesaurus application.
Electronic dictionaries are handy alternatives to having the dictionary application. These nifty little gadget incentivises the usage of the dictionary as it simplifies the process of searching for meaning of words or antonyms and synonyms.
2. Read voraciously
Reading exposes us to words we never knew existed and at the same time, teaches us how the word can be used in a sentence / paragraph. It helps to read up on topics that stir your interest. For example, if you are an avid fan of soccer, you could pick a biography on your favourite soccer star, trawl through online journals for excerpts on the history of the sport or read the SPORTS section in your daily free newspapers.
Diversify your reading habits and sources. Genres and sources include, non-exclusively, fiction, non-fiction, magazines, articles, movie reviews, book reviews and various online news agencies. All these sources are a treasure trove of new words just waiting to be discovered. When you do encounter a new word, do not hesitate to check that word up in your dictionary.
3. Find example sentences.
The english language is not mundane so learning it should not be! Rote-learning often impedes the absorption of infomation. Thus, we should avoid searching for definitions of words and memorising them. It helps to look for examples of the words being used in sentences. Many a time, the words can be used in a variety of ways in different sentences. This gives you the different contexts that the word can be used in too. For a small price, some dictionary apps will give you numerous example sentences for each word. Leverage off these functions.
4. Review your favourites list.
As you search more and more words, be sure to favourite them using a “favourites” function. After a while, you will start building a whole personal lexicon. As your personal lexicon expands, it helps to review the words from time to time. Read through the definitions and example sentences and then come up with your own as well.
5. Find vocabulary partners
Find one in school or CCA group. Exchange lists and keep updating one another whenever new words come up. This is a win-win situation as both parties stand to learn one more new word everyday – if your habit is to discover 1 new word per day. That is 730 words per year!
6. List down words that you encounter during conversations.
Occasionally, you come across words in conversation with friends that you do not understand. Do not let it pass you by. The only silly question is the one you do not ask. Friends who used the terminologies will know what that particular word means, what context it can be used in and how it should be use. Alternatively, take a mental note of it or list it down and research its meaning, usage and possible synonyms / antonyms.
7. Do not be afraid to do questions from previous year’s books.
There are many dedicated vocabulary assessment books out there in bookstores. However, due to time constraints, many of these books are hardly completed by the end of each year. The truth of the matter is that for each age level, the books have already identified key words and even phrases that are useful. If you find that the ones you are trying to do now are too hard, it is good to attempt books of a lower level. Laying a sturdy vocabulary foundation is essential for learning more intricate aspects of the English language.
8. Be committed.
Oftentimes, as with any other goal, you start off with a resolute aim to expand your vocabulary. It lasts for 2 weeks to a month at most. Following that, other things come in the way. Exams draw near. Assignments take up huge chunks of your time and so on and so forth.
Make it a habit. Come up with a system which prompts you to revisit your old words from time to time. Also, many dictionary apps have word-of-the-days. One new word a day translates into 365 for the year. Revise your personal lexicon once a week or a fortnight.
Make it fun. Talk about the words you learn. Share it with your friends. Improving one’s vocabulary need not be a mundane task. Play word games. Check out a few top word game lists here, here, here and here.
Inculcate a fiercely genuine interest and curiosity for the words in the language. At times, doing it only for the grades makes the process painful and tedious. By doing it for self-improvement and self-investment, the process becomes rewarding and enjoyable. Do it knowing that a rich vocabulary means that you will be able to understand better and be a better communicator at expressing yourself.
Jot down, as a reminder, why you wish to improve your vocabulary. For some people, it may be that they wish to be a better communicator or perhaps for some others, they just wish to grasp the language better. This reminder serves as a motivation for you to persist in your journey for better vocabulary.
Expanding one’s vocabulary is a continuous effort; one that should be done consistently and continuously. Seeing how it is the start of a new year, why not make it a resolution to improve your vocabulary this year?
There are 25 Kip McGrath Education Centres in Singapore offering English tuition to students in groups of 5. Each student receives an individual student plan.
With the right diagnostic tools and assessments, our qualified tutors are able to identify each student’s areas of improvement and draft out a strategy to address the issues being faced.
Don’t wait. Click the link HERE for a free assessment at your nearest Kip McGrath Education Centre.
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