Learn New Words

Parents hoping to encourage their child to develop a stronger vocabulary might want to share these ideas laid out by Jeanne Shay Schumm in her book, School Power: Study Skill Strategies for Succeeding in School.

A bigger vocabulary can help you express your thoughts and feelings more clearly It can make what you say sound more interesting. It can also improve your performance on tests and make you a better reader.

We learn new words naturally all the time by listening to our parents, friends, teachers, and the TV. With a little effort and a lot of curiosity, you can give your natural learning tendency a push in the right direction.

  1. Develop word radar. Become aware of new words as you read and hear them.
  2. Make an effort to remember new words. keep a list in your notebook, or start a word box with index cards. Write a new word on the front of each card and the definition on the back. Store your cards alphabetically in a file box.
  3. If you come across a new word in a textbook you can’t write in, jot down the word on a removable self-stick note and stick it in the book.
  4. Try to figure out the meanings of new words from their context — the familiar words and phrases that surround them. If you find a word you can’t understand, look it up in the dictionary.
  5. Use a thesaurus. The root meaning of the word “thesaurus” is “treasury.” Think of your thesaurus as a treasury of new words, waiting to be discovered by you.
  6. Use your head. When someone around you says a new word, ask what it means.
  7. Be a word detective. Let your curiosity inspire you to learn more about a word than its meaning. Check its pronunciation and find out where it came from. Examine its roots and track down related words.
  8. Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and head for the Oxford English Dictionary, called the “OED” for short. Most libraries carry this important reference work. It traces words back through time to their earliest uses, showing how spellings and meanings have changed.
  9. Become an etymologist — a student of words.


Adapted from Jeanne Shay Schumm’s School Power: Study Skill Strategies for Succeeding in School.





By Posted in Working Smart on Aug 13, 2012

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