Improve your student’s vocabulary, Part II

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As students progress through each school year, their vocabulary should be improving and growing. Increasing our vocabulary is ideal, no matter what field or career. Remember that a good vocabulary is needed to communicate our ideas and feelings effectively. As seen in “Improve your student’s vocabulary, Part I,” there are several things you can do to improve your student’s vocabulary. Help your student continue to take control of life and learning by implementing these tips too!

1) Understand root words.They’re the basics of our language. Understanding root words helps students understand larger, unfamiliar words. This boosts reading comprehension and fluency because when your students come across an unknown word, they can figure out the possible meanings if they know what the root word is. You can find lists and games onlineto play with root words. Or challenge each other to think of words you know, and then dissect them.

2) Learn how prefixes and suffixes change a root word’s meaning. A prefix is a word part added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. For example, re- can be added to the word use to make reuse. A suffix is a word part added to the end of a word to change its meaning. For example, -ful can be added to use to make useful. Discuss how the prefix or suffix changes the meaning.Ask your student to make a list of prefixes and suffixes by listing words that you normally use already. Again, there are lots of tools/worksheets and games online that can help too. Adding prefixes and suffixes to your student’s vocabulary will increase its range without needing to learn specific new words.

3)Look for similar or related words. This is different from attaching prefixes and suffixes to root words. Many words (usually verbs) have similar larger words, such as act and activate, or use and usage. The structure of similar words can show a student how words are built and evolve. Begin with a simple word and see how many different words your student can write down. (Prefixes and suffixes are okay. Coming up with any word keeps the brain thinking!

4) Make word maps! A word map(or word diagram or graphic organizer) shows the relationships between words. This is a tool that young children’s brains already use naturally, so help your student learn actively by discussing how a new word fits into current vocabulary. For example, upon learning the word ostrich refers to a bird, the brain automatically will deduce that an ostrich has feathers (because birds have feathers). Have your student draw a diagram to connect the new word to words or ideas the student already knows. This will help link vocabulary to each other in your student’s brain.

5) Find words that have come from other languages. From playing with the dictionary, your student will learn that a lot of words in our English language come from other languages. This is how many languages grow–by absorbing words from other languages. For example, a lot of prefixes and suffixes (not to mention whole words) come from Latin and Greek. We also have words from the French, German, Spanish, Native American languages, and more! Have your student figure out the history (etymology) of a word. This will expand the student’s vocabulary by introducing the way a word changed over time.

Continue to be encouraging as your students learn new words. Playing word games and discussing new words are the best ways to grow a vocabulary.Read and write with your students, and their vocabulary will grow faster than you can imagine!Happy Learning!

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