Good Habits for Better Vocabulary Retention


In the age of instant messaging, today’s youth are reading less and failing to expand their vocabulary, says literacy and child development specialist Professor Tom Nicholson. From a young age, it’s important to establish a lifetime habit of learning new words, something that teachers are in prime position to do. However, teaching kids vocabulary must go beyond mere flashcards and memorizing lists. That’s because students need to be able to harness language to support their communicative needs, which means that learning should come in the form of continuous habit-building. That said, here are a few ways to help students improve their language skills.

Encourage Reading


It goes without saying that the best writers and speakers are often the widest readers. While today’s kids may have been raised on iPads and television, it’s important to encourage them to pick up a book (or download an e-book) more often. Not only do books introduce them to people and places outside of their own worlds, but they also expose them to words they wouldn’t normally hear on a daily basis. You don’t have to introduce them to mind-boggling Shakespeare right away. Some good old Dr. Seuss or Roald Dahl can already help set the pace. Get them acquainted with the library by scheduling some classes or sessions that make use of its resources. That way, they don’t think of the internet as the be-all end-all of learning.  Engage them in conversation.

Engage them in conversation


Conversation can be a good way to expand and practice a child’s vocabulary. Young students tend to absorb grammar and vocabulary better this way because it allows them to attach meaningful context to unfamiliar words instead of just seeing them on a list. An article on The Reading Teacher explains that teachers can further this development by opening up opportunities for purposeful conversations. For example, instead of asking “Did you like the movie?” you can say, “Share one thing you learned from the movie.” This way, you can stimulate a deeper response and let them explore words through their own experiences. You can also boost this learning by encouraging kids to learn while on the move.Research study published on Behavioral and Brain Functions found that moderate physical activity, like walking, can help children remember and understand words better.

Use Technology

Remember that technology is not always the enemy. On their Software Development page, Maryville University highlights the major role mobile technology has come to occupy in our everyday lives. Apps, games, and even VR are more accessible to young learners than ever before, and this is something that instructors can harness to develop habits for continuous learning among students. Dictionary or thesaurus mobile apps, for example, have made expanding one’s vocabulary much easier. Students no longer need to put up with bulky textbooks because it only takes a few seconds to pull out your phone and search the definition of a word.  Of course, there are more fun ways to use technology for learning. Language games can help kids enjoy learning about everything from synonyms and antonyms to compound words and plurals. On the other hand, learning software such as our own InferCabulary offer more than your typical vocabulary app. It’s a powerful tool that can help students hone their critical thinking to learn the different meanings of words across different contexts. Teachers have the option to hand-select words based on their grade level and word list. It also allows for a more personalized approach, because you can track a student’s progress with the words they learned and determine which particular ones they struggle with. 

Written exclusively for by Maya Cunningham