Tips for Learning New Vocabulary Words

Creating Effective and Meaningful Vocabulary Lists


Communication is an integral part of life. Therefore, an effective and meaningful vocabulary list is essential for building language skills that are used throughout life. Creating vocabulary lists that produce results is not difficult, but requires a little forethought.  For example, most importantly, ensure that any list is age appropriate. When it comes to learning new words, reinforce learning by using flash cards, question and answer tests, fill in the blank tests, and consider using online resources to make an effective spelling list.

Where to Find Vocabulary Words
Two easy ways to find vocabulary words is to scan reading material that students are currently using or review lesson plans. Look for words that may be unfamiliar and add these new words to a book, leaving space for a definition. Once the list is complete, add the definitions and look for any root words that may help students understand meanings easier. Sometimes it is helpful to put the words into sentences first, as this helps to show the meaning of words in an easier to comprehend format.

Ways to Make Learning Vocabulary Words Fun
There are many ways to make learning vocabulary words fun.  For instance, have students read a story and then fill in the blanks with sentences drawn from the story.  As a result, new vocabulary words are reinforced.  Another idea involves using word jumbles and word searches to help students understand the correct spelling for new words. Additionally, many students benefit by using flash cards.  On one side of a 3 X 5 card, write the word, and on the flip side, write the definition. As a result, students are able to commit words to memory. Lastly, the game of hangman offers a fun, creative way to teach vocabulary words.

Types of Vocabulary Words
There are four basic types of words. These can be defined as “Type A Words”, “Type B Words”, “Type C Words”, “Type D Words” and “Type X Words”.  Type A words convey the meaning of the text and define the discipline area. Type B words are the basics, making up a large percentage of student reading and writing.  Additionally, these words are known as the “no-excuse words”.   Type C words are connectors, although there is some overlap with basic words and connectors.  Type D words are difficult words that have multiple meanings.  Finally, Type X words are extras that do not fit into another category.

A solid vocabulary is critical for reading success.  Not only does it improve comprehension and help with communication, but it can also improve academic confidence.  By having students, read, write and listen they build stronger, more effective vocabularies. Create effective lists by using materials that students are interested in and are currently studying or reading. Utilize online tools to help create new lists and consider playing games that include new and challenging words.  By following these guidelines, teachers can build the foundation for life-long academic success for students.