I once told my wife she was pulchritudinous*. She looked at me like I had just told her she was unprepossessing and ponderous. I quickly realized that I had to provide the definition before I ended up sleeping out in the shed.
Vocabulary Means Communication
When it comes to communicating, there’s nothing worse than trying to explain something to someone when you can’t think of the right words. The more words a person knows, the easier it can be to explain things. Think about it. How easy is it for you to explain the following?
- How to change oil in a machine
- How to fry an egg
- What cola tastes like
- Why The Piano Guys are your favorite musical group
- Where your house is in your city
- Who your favorite artist is, where they are from, and who influenced their work
What vocabulary do you need to have? What vocabulary does the person you are talking to need to have? The more you know the easier it is, and the more likely it is that someone will keep listening to you.
How To Learn Vocabulary
There are a variety of situations where someone might need to learn new vocabulary. A child at the beginning of school needs to acquire new words. Teachers provide pictures for letters to help kids learn the alphabet, and what sounds the letters make. It’s not just kids who can use pictures to learn vocabulary. English Language Learners (ELL’s) can benefit from pictures too, regardless of how old they are. Pictures of familiar objects will help people who are learning a new language make connections to the words they already know.
When it comes to learning vocabulary, repetition is important. On average, it takes students seven interactions with a word before they can really remember the word and what it means. Obviously some words might be easier than others. Some really like using flash cards to practice new words while others repeat words from a list. There are electronic versions of cards, and you can create all the word lists you want on your phone or tablet.
Using vocabulary in context also helps with retention. Remembering words just for the sake of remembering words is boring and frustrating. Knowing how to use new words is critical. Try to use new words in sentences with people you know. They will be surprised, and you’ll have another opportunity to explain what the word means.
Spelling Vocabulary Words
Spelling can be a difficult thing when it comes to learning new vocabulary. There are some tricks that can help with spelling words, but there are too many to go into now. It’s important to have an understanding of the basic rules of English words. There are many rules and exceptions but knowing the basics can really help. Visit the Cambridge Online Dictionary for more information.
- Know your prefixes. (-in, -un, -dis)
- Know how to make a word plural. (adding -s or -es)
- Know when to double your consonants. (adding -ing, -ily, -ed, or -er)
- Know when to drop a letter at the end when adding -ly.
- Know when to spell -ie or -ei.
- Know verb forms, past or present tense. (ran, run, running)
- Know the vowel+consonant+e rule. (kite, late, mute)
- Know the difference between British and American spelling. (colour/color)
Don’t Give UP!
If you still don’t like thinking about spelling, you still have access to dictionaries and spell check, right? Think of how much easier reading will be with a greater vocabulary.
*If you didn’t look the words up yet, pulchritudinous means physically beautiful. Unprepossessing means ugly, beastly, or gross. And ponderous means of great weight or massive.
Words are fascinating. So much emotion can be produced by the words we say, and what we think they mean.
Grow that vocabulary, and read on!
And, if you found this helpful, please feel free to pass it on.