Teaching English – Vocabulary

teaching english punctuation

Vocabulary are words which we learn, know and apply to speech and in our writing.

It is important that every effort goes into improving children’s understanding of vocabulary as without this, their ability to comprehend texts will be severely hampered. Much of how well children achieve in school is linked to the range of their vocabulary so it is crucial that they are fully equipped not only with their own inherent vocabulary but with strategies to be able to “guess” or “predict” what words mean in their context.

As much of the English language is originally derived from Greek and particularly Latin, as well as French etc.. it is worth learning the derivation of certain words whose root is sourced in those languages in order to understand their meaning.

e.g. “Manu” is Latin for “hand” from there the word “manual” which has two meanings – in its adjectival form manual worker – someone who works with their hands; however in the phrase the car manual – here manual is a noun and means the book of instructions carried out by hand
for example – manuscript – a hand written book;

Other words with Latin derivation such as “Bio” meaning “life”
We can immediately see the link between this “prefix and other words e.g. Biology – study of life forms
Vocabulary is not only applied to the text but to how we write. Some words are what is commonly called active vocabulary as we apply it on a daily basis as in example 1.

e.g.1 Mr Jones threw the chair across the room.
(Active vocabulary we know Mr Jones threw the chair)

These are words we actively and actually use whereas passive vocabulary only comes into play when we do not wish to name the subject of the sentence as we did in example 1. Please note in example 2 and 3 the tone becomes more formal

e.g.2 The chair was thrown across the room (passive vocabulary we do not know who threw the chair. That information has remained “hidden”. This style of writing is used in lab experiments to keep it more formal and objective.

Students are actively encouraged to use this form when writing up an experiment so as to make the writing more formal and objective.

e.g.3  The Bunsen burner was placed beneath the tripod. Here there is no mention of who placed the Bunsen burner there because in the experiment the person carrying it out is not important. It is the experiment itself and the results that are the main focus of the writing.

It is important to read as much as possible to improve vocabulary as there is a high correlation between those who read and their academic attainment. One cannot downplay the value of reading. However there are other ways to improve vocabulary.

Using prefixes, it is possible to guess certain words within context

There are several prefixes which mean the opposite of the original word

  • Prefix: Un In Dis Mis
    Words: Unreal Insane Disappear Misbehave
  • Prefix:  Im Ir Il Pre
    Words:  Impossible Irrelevant Illegible Pre-eminent

By using words such as these one can start to improve one’s vocabulary.

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