Tips for Learning New Vocabulary Words

Crossword Puzzles as Tools to Reinforce Learning Definitions


Games are an effective way to help students learn vocabulary words more quickly.  This is because the tedium of memorization is removed and learning happens naturally, in a relaxed setting.  Learning definitions can be especially boring with the repetition necessary for memorization.  Fortunately, it is one of the easiest tasks to set to a game. Crosswords puzzles are an excellent way to make learning definitions more fun.  Remember, these puzzles do not have to look perfect, and can even be created by students themselves and still be very effective.

Crossword Puzzles Promote Letter and Word Recognition
Using crossword puzzles as a tool for learning vocabulary words helps children first learn word definitions, and second, proper spelling of words. This is because they spend quite a bit of time looking at the words and definitions while they are determining which word goes where. In addition, spelling is very important in the puzzle because if a word is misspelled, it will not fit with adjacent words.  As a result, students playing crossword puzzles pay closer attention to spelling.

Crossword Puzzles Encourage Thinking
When students work on crossword puzzles as part of the learning process, they are actually memorizing words and meanings without realizing it. Due to the nature of a crossword puzzle, students often read the definitions several times while thinking of potential answers. As a result, when they finally choose the correct vocabulary word, it is repeated to ensure that the letters fit properly in the available blocks.  Not only does this process encourage repetition in thinking, but also, it leads to memorization.

Crossword Puzzles Build Confidence in Learning
Students who get frustrated easily while studying often find that crossword puzzles and word finds help to build confidence.  Because they are games, students do not build anxiety as in traditional learning. Additionally, when students succeed with word games, they feel more secure about learning in general and become more comfortable with reading, writing and vocabulary.

Crossword Puzzles Add Variety in Learning Definitions
Variety is the spice of life and learning vocabulary words is no exception. Repeating words can get boring and dull, but adding a little variety helps keep students interested and engaged. Throwing in word games like crossword puzzles is an excellent way to promote variety. However, it is best to introduce games only after students have been exposed to new and challenging words. Waiting until they are somewhat familiar with difficult words will increase the likelihood that they will solve the crossword puzzles.

Benefits of Creating Crossword Puzzles
Students are able to benefit from creating their own crossword puzzles. Even if a computer system generates the words, allowing students to input definitions is a great way to get new information in front of them in a different format. Additionally, swapping puzzles with classmates creates an element of competition and fun in solving the puzzles, which adds to the learning process.

The use of crossword puzzles for learning definitions is a great aid for teachers. Puzzles are great for helping students to internalize definitions instead of simply cramming for a test.  As a result, students can enjoy the learning process and are provided with opportunities to have a bit of fun.