Why is vocabulary development worth worrying about?

  • Your writing can only be precise and powerful in its communication if you have enough precise and powerful words to express the complex ideas that are involved in reading, research and writing at the senior secondary level.
  • If you think back to when you were a small child, before you learned to read and write, you found new words to describe the world around you (new things you could see, hear, feel, smell, taste) and inside you (new ideas, feelings, dreams, questions, fears). You learned these words fairly effortlessly and perhaps without even noticing, as other people told you the names for new things or you heard them on TV or in the street. This is what we call informal learning and it continues for your whole life.
  • As you study, you accumulate thousands of new words for all the new ideas you are learning. This has been the case since you began school. This is what we call formal learning and it continues for as long as you learn in formal settings at school or work.
  • New words are being coined every day for new discoveries and new inventions. Did you know that 'coined' is a word that means created that comes from pressing metal to make money at the mint?
  • In your studies, you are really investigating different explanations of how the world works. The words that are used in these explanations come from experts and inventors in physics, geometry, algebra, psychology, cartography, climatology, philosophy....
  • It is essential to keep working on your vocabulary, so that your communication skills keep pace with your learning.Your capacity to listen, speak, read and write about your learning can only be solid if you have built solid foundations in the technical vocabulary of each subject. This formal and technical language is required for formal writing in tests, exams, essay and reports. You need to distinguish between this specialised language and the informal, commonsense or colloquial language of everyday life if you want to demonstrate your understandings of the topics you study.

How do you know if you have enough words?

How can you use precise and powerful vocabulary?

Try out this short test to see how easily words come to you.

What tools and strategies might be useful?