Building vocabulary is an never-ending process that starts in primary school. Helping your child implement efficient vocabulary building strategies will ensure they develop a strong vocabulary they can use to better communicate their thoughts and intentions.
Vocabulary and reading are two inter-dependent skills. The bigger your vocabulary the easier reading is for you. The more you read, the stronger your vocabulary becomes. Gaining conceptual knowledge – being aware of a word’s meaning or represented idea – means text comprehension is easier. This can be achieved both by reading more and by learning new vocabulary.
How to learn new words when reading
One of the easiest yet most under-utilized ways to improve vocabulary for children is through reading. Children read all the time, on a range of subject matter, so making the most of this to build a child’s vocabulary is an efficient and effective way to make that practice part of something they’re already doing.
When reading, your child will encounter many unknown words. These are often a cause of frustration, but this should be viewed as an opportunity for building vocabulary.
Your child has two tools in her disposal:
1) Morphemic knowledge
2) Contextual knowledge
Applying these two helps the child understand a sentence’s meaning and learn a new word at the same time, all without having to resort to a digital or print dictionary.
Take the following sentence:
“The presidential candidate insisted his remarks were innocuous and didn’t mean to downplay their opponent’s work cyber crime initiatives.”
A younger student especially will probably not know the word “innocuous”. However through morphemic and contextual hints they can come up with its definition.
In terms of contextual knowledge, the second clause is explanatory, giving hints that whatever ‘innocuous’ mean it certainly is not something positive. So positive meanings are ruled out and what can be inferred is that it could mean ‘accidental’, ‘negative’, ‘harmful’.
Morphemically, the word has the affix ‘in’ which means not, or without. “-nocous” is a synonym for “noxious” both of which mean harmful or dangerous.
This process can help students derive meaning out of unknown words and since the student actively problem-solves each word, they are more likely to remember it.