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4 easy ways to build your child’s English vocabulary

English has emerged as the most common medium of instruction used in higher education internationally. Good test scores in the English language are crucial for higher education admissions both in India and abroad.

A critical component of English proficiency is a good vocabulary. In fact, according to research (Masrai et al. 2021, published by Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education), vocabulary knowledge is considered to have a significant impact on the academic success of students. Thus, apart from general speaking skills, it is important for your child to develop a rich vocabulary of the English language.

In this blog, we are going to tell 4 ways to help your child develop their English vocabulary and also have some fun doing it:

Use “Spaced repetition”:

Blog 8_Forgetting Curve

(Source: The original uploader was Icez at English Wikipedia. – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2214107)

Our memory is not as strong as we believe it to be. That is the reason why even when children memorize everything just before the exams, chances are they will forget a few things while answering the questions in the exam. This can be scientifically explained by Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve (see the figure below) which implies that most of our memory is lost over a period of time if there is no deliberate attempt made to remember things. Thus for long-term retention, it is important to keep revising things a sufficient number of times at predetermined intervals. This is called the spaced repetition technique.

For example, if your child learns a certain word on day 0, ask them to revise it again a day later, 3 days later, a week later, a month later, and so on. The more times it is revised the stronger their memory will become related to those words.

Give a context to the new words:

Sure, children can memorize the words in commonly available vocabulary lists. However, such rote learning will not help them much since they will soon forget the context of these words. Their vocabulary will get stronger if they learn these words while relating them to situations in their daily life.

For example, while learning a new word like ‘eloquent’, ask them to write 3 sentences related to their life using that word and different forms of that word. Some typical examples are:

1. Our teacher gave an eloquent speech on Independence Day.
2. In scientific writing, aim for clarity rather than eloquence.
3. My mother speaks eloquently about her art.

Develop a reading habit in your child:

Reading is one of the best ways to strengthen one’s vocabulary. Through reading, your child will be constantly exposed to new words with a context. So even if they don’t know a certain word, they will get a fair idea of what it means just by knowing the background of its usage. For slightly older children you can also build a habit of reading English newspapers on a daily basis. Each time they read a book or a piece of news, ask them to write down at least 2-3 new words they learnt that day. Ask them to find the meanings of these words and help them write some examples using these new words. This exercise will help them develop their own personalized list of vocabulary which they can regularly use to revise from.

Use game-based learning:

Building vocabulary should not feel like a burden. Though it does take effort and consistency, there are some fun elements you can include in this process.

For example, Scrabble is an amazingly fun and interactive game that can help your child use and remember more words. Such educational games might be slightly expensive but they are a good investment for your child’s education. You can also use more commonly available tools such as the crossword puzzles that are available for free in most newspapers. There are free Apps available too! For example, Wordscapes is a free word puzzle video game that can make learning and practising new words fun for your child.

Though developing a rich vocabulary is a lifelong process, the earlier you start you the better results you will get. As a parent, try to maximize the exposure they get and encourage them to practice as much as possible. Remember, each child has their own pace of learning. With a positive mindset, they will definitely achieve the best in their language learning journey.

LEAD’s English Language and General Awareness (ELGA) programme focuses on developing skills and uses a level-based approach with multi-age classrooms. LEAD also arranges interviews with students and parents from different locations to analyse their knowledge of the English language, and where they should actually be. The report that LEAD presents to the parents after this exercise helps them realise the right indicators to identify the potential of their child.

LEAD is helping children become future-ready. To enrol your child in a LEAD Powered School: Fill the admission form now

About the author

Anuj Kumar Jha, a Faculty of Management Studies (Delhi) alumnus, is the Program Manager at LEAD. Previously, he has worked with Ex-Ola and Ex-Mu Sigma. Anuj has graduated from HBTI, Kanpur. Knowing the power of education, he believes in LEAD's mission to transform learning in Affordable Private Schools in India.

Anuj Kumar Jha

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