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Vocabulary development is an ongoing process that sticks with us for the rest of our lives. Many people aren’t aware of the importance of good vocabulary and how it shapes our lives. With a good vocabulary, you can express your emotions and feelings through words. Through this, you see new meanings, different possibilities, and more good thoughts that will help develop one’s life. A good vocabulary is what every teacher would want for their student and every parent, for their child. To learn more about vocabulary development and why it is so important, read further below.

Vocabulary Development Key Concepts

Mentioned below are three different concepts for learning or improving vocabulary:

1. Intentional and Incidental Vocabulary

According to  
 , to help students develop their vocabulary and closing the gap, there is no use of a single-based research method. After a proper analysis, the panel recommended reading books aloud to students and listening to them. It also involved reading books on their own. This helps close the gap for many students who have an inadequate or limited vocabulary.

Intentional vocabulary learning consists of explicitly taught teaching methods catering to intentional vocabulary learning. Intentional vocabulary instruction usually includes teaching word-learning strategies that students can use individually on their own.

It also promotes the development of word consciousness and helps engage students in learning different words through wordplay activities. Lastly, it helps teach specific words that support understanding various passages containing those words.

Incidental vocabulary learning is when students acquire vocabulary through instant exposure to phrases and words in their schools and home. Exposure to different conversations, a habit of carefully listening to the teacher, and reading books out loud are ways to incidentally build vocabulary.

One of the best ways to good vocabulary learning is through reading. The activity exposes you to so many different words that you’re bound to use in the future when you write and speak.

2. Early Vocabulary Development Differences

There’s a very popular concept of how children tend to learn vocabulary at an early age through listening. This makes it important to read to them. Keeping up a continuous pattern helps children learn different words when they try to speak to others.

Once children start reading and writing, they gain a better vocabulary by understanding the text. From there on, they use different words when writing and speaking.

Before they begin going to school, there can be a disparity between different children groups’ knowledge of vocabulary. In some environments or classrooms, a few children tend to have a better vocabulary than the rest of the classroom.

A few reasons for such gaps are that some students come from family environments with lots of verbal stimulation and good language. It is also because some parents teach their children to read independently. This habit can lead to the early development of word consciousness.

Now, you’re probably wondering why some students have an inadequate vocabulary compared to their classmates. Well, it’s possible that they come from a family that doesn’t reward or encourage a better vocabulary.

Other reasons could be that the child is a reluctant reader, the family environment didn’t expose them to books, or English may be their second language.

This is why encouraging reading at home is very important for early vocabulary development. Parents need to invest in their children’s vocabulary by constantly asking questions, so they learn about different things. According to Hart and Risely (1995), intervention is very important to address knowledge gaps in students when it comes to vocabulary.

3. Reading Development and Vocabulary Learning

Research shows that vocabulary can help with reading developments and also encourages comprehension. When students have low vocabulary scores, they usually have little comprehension skills as well.

On the other hand, students with high vocabulary scores did comparatively well on comprehension. For a child to build better reading skills, comprehension is essential, according to the National Reading Panel.

Types of Vocabulary Learning Strategies

For good vocabulary development, students require exposure to a wide range of different word-learning strategies. Research supports these strategies. The aim of vocabulary instruction is to engage students and make them think about different words and their meanings.

This can help them determine ways to use the words in proper situations. Mentioned below are the different types of vocabulary learning strategies:

– Application of Target Words

Through the application of target words, students are able to learn different word meanings. Students need to face different challenges to apply target words in real-life situations. This gives them the opportunity to understand the meaning of each world at a personal level. They also process meanings in a way that’s hard to forget.

– Using Context Clues

According to research by Nagy and Scott (2000), students use contextual analysis to match meaning to a word and understand its surrounding text. Building a reading exposes students to a range of different words. Consequently, researchers believe that by using context clues, students have the potential to engage in long-term vocabulary growth.

– Word Consciousness

According to Anderson and Nagy (1932), word consciousness is an awareness and interest in words. When students are word conscious, they are aware of all the different words surrounding them when they read and hear others speak. Such students tend to use words in a very skillful way.

They are well aware of the subtleties behind the meaning of each word. This also makes them curious about language and encourages them to play around with words. They take an interest in investigating the history and origin of different words, which is a very important thing for developing vocabulary.

According to Scott and Nagy, teachers must give much emphasis to word consciousness during their classes and instructional days as well.

Students must have access to different vocabulary development resources, such as crossword puzzles, joke books, wordplay activities, literature, poetry books, crossword puzzles, dictionaries, and much more. There are few ways teachers can encourage the development of word consciousness.

They can do so through figurative language, which is the ability to manage various figures of speech and is a component of word-consciousness. Some of the most popular figures of speech are idioms, metaphors, and similes.

Language categories are another way teachers can promote the development of word consciousness. Through this, students learn how to make finer distinctions in their word choices.

This will work if they fully understand the relationship among various words like antonyms, homographs, and synonyms. Once both figurative language and language categories have been exposed and taught to students, then they will need encouragement to look for examples in all these areas.

– Use Definitions that are Student-Friendly

While dictionaries are very important when it comes to learning the meaning of a new word, students need proper explanations of meanings. A dictionary isn’t enough, and it’s difficult for some students to understand the meaning directly from the dictionary.

When following student-friendly explanations, Beck et al. (2013) demonstrated that teachers should follow two basic principles. These two principles involve characterizing the words and how-to typically use that word.

The other principle involves explaining the meaning using everyday language that is more accessible to students and easier for them to understand.

– Sketch the Words

Many students find it easier to remember a word by sketching it. The sketch helps connect the work to more personal meaning and makes it easier for the students to properly understand the meaning.

This will allow the student to apply each target working to a familiar or new context. The students don’t necessarily have to spend time drawing the perfect sketch.

The purpose of this strategy is for the sketch to make sense to them and help them connect the meaning to the word.

– Define Words with the Context

According to research, when there are easy words that come with simple explanations and meaning, these are introduced in context. When a student is exposed to an unfamiliar word, this affects their comprehension.

When introducing a new word meaning, explain the mean instantly upon revealing the word in the text.

– Semantic Mapping

By creating semantic maps, students can develop a connection with words and increase their learning of different vocabulary words.

A good example would be to ask students to write the synonym, antonym, a non-example, and the opposite of a particular word given.

The Takeaway

Hopefully, after reading this article, you can tell why vocabulary development is so important. This should start during a student’s early stages, so when they reach a certain age, they have a strong vocabulary. As a teacher and parent, you must go through these different vocabulary strategies.

Encourage your students or kids to develop a reading habit and write stories to gradually improve vocabulary. With time, they’re sure to show fluency in choosing context-appropriate words for their conversations and writing.

This can prove beneficial at school as they move through upper grades and need to understand complex concepts to get better scores.

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