How to Study Vocabulary Words

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Students of all ages need to learn study skills in order to increase vocabulary. This lesson outlines methods students can use to study vocabulary words, according to age and skill groups.

Why Study Vocabulary?

Are vocabulary skills becoming obsolete? Not at all. Although advances in technology have made finding the definition of a word pretty handy, most educational institutions still require students to learn and use a wide range of vocabulary. We see this in several applications, from context-specific words for a novel study or academic vocabulary, or those words typically only seen in an academic setting, such as 'isosceles.'

No matter what, students in upper elementary and beyond all need to learn how to acquire and understand words. Have students use these strategies to study vocabulary.

Studying Vocabulary - Upper Elementary Students

Upper elementary refers to students in grades 4-5. These students are in the 'reading to learn' transition phase, already knowing how to read and now learning lots of new information. These starter strategies can help them build a foundation of vocabulary study skills.

  • Games - Children this age are still active game-players and will naturally learn vocabulary when repeated in game format. Have them make cards with the word on one and the definition on another and set up times for them to play matching card games like memory, go fish and old maid.
  • Group Work - Working alongside other students with and without your guidance can boost vocabulary skills. Set up games online and allow students to visit at station time, or lead a version of Definition Battle Rounds. Group students into 3-4, then give a definition. Groups who can ring in with the correct word get a point. Be creative with your group work - play hangman, use words often in context, and incorporate vocabulary into routines such as line-up time.
  • Make it Visible - Having a vocabulary word wall will help students create a visual picture of the word. Choose a spot on the wall and label 'Vocabulary.' Make it more specific with a title, such as 'Oceanic Vocabulary.' Write the word and definition on index cards or sentence strips, show to students, then hang on the wall. Make it interactive by allowing students to manipulate the words in a match-game format by attaching string or putting into a pocket chart.

Studying Vocabulary - Middle and High School

Even though they may think they're too cool for games, middle and high school students still play and learn. They also need to develop a stronger arsenal of study skills, however, so let's go ahead and bridge them with these savvy methods.

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