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The Importance of Vocabulary

As an educator, I want to help guide students to become well-informed adults for our future.  People

need to be able to read a variety of resources and come to an opinion on their own.  Nevertheless, in

doing this we have to have a grasp of the vocabulary they will be reading otherwise they will be

skimming over words and could come to the wrong conclusions. Think even as an adult have you just

skimmed over a word because you did not want to look it up?  Moreover, we have phones that can tell

us anything.  We have to be able to evaluate the sources we use and vocabulary has a part in that as

well.  Vocabulary work is essential to cross-curricular content comprehension.  In addition, this does not just apply to my students, it's all students and people.  Our students have classes in English, Math, Band, Science, Foreign Languages, and so on.  In an adult's daily life, you are learning about your particular job and maybe a career that is new, family, hobbies, sports, etc. We have to effectively unlock the meaning of cross-curricular vocabulary words that are encountered.  Vocabulary is the key to students and our learning the content now and being able to evaluate resources in the future.


Requiring vocabulary as part of my history class was always important to me because I know it can make a difference in what a student understands.  I am not the best wordsmith but I do look up words that I do not know.  Some words have a general definition but in a history class, the word may mean

something else.  My students had to use the textbook glossary first, and then if they still needed help with a word, they could use a dictionary or their phones.  The textbooks would have the historical definition.  History classes can often have more difficult vocabulary than other content.  By difficult I mean words that are not necessarily used every day in normal conversations.  I have had interpreters for hearing-impaired students in my class and they said that the History classes are sometimes the hardest classes to interpret because there are not as many signs for the language used.  When interpreting words that do not have signs that is when they have to spell the word and when you are trying to get a student to understand a word, just spelling it does not cut it.   We used words like governed, emancipation, salutary.  The History glossary has words linked Buck, Cabinet, and Guerrilla.  These three words have multiple meanings.  In class, I want you to understand that the soldiers were using Guerrilla Warfare meaning they had hit and run attacks.  Not words that most people use every day.  However, every so often some of the vocabulary is slipped in on television.  I once heard one of the vocabulary words on ESPN.  Of course, I had to tell the class when I got to school.


When I was teaching in the classroom my students were assigned their vocabulary as homework where students had the vocabulary word and wrote a kid-friendly definition, a sentence with the word.  This has to be a sentence that makes sense to me as the teacher so that I know that the student knows the word.  I taught middle school students so I would have to stipulate a minimum number of words because I have received sentences that say “I have Constitution”. They then draw a picture with color for our visual students.  Our brains will remember longer the more we repeat a word and the more color we use in pictures.  The pictures did not have to be an exact drawing but what the students thought of when they thought of that word. That can sound odd but if I ask you to take a few seconds and think of an apple.  The picture of an apple you envision may look different compared to the person you are sitting next to.  I might like green apples so my picture is a green apple whereas you like red apples and your drawing would be of a red apple.  This exercise is tailored to help students by engaging them with what is relevant to them.  My students were supposed to complete the vocabulary if they had free time at the end of class when they had finished their work or finished it for homework.  I understand that this is a lot of work but studies have shown that the more repetition the more it will stimulate the brain for long-term memory. My goal is to have students use methods that increase their long-term memory of vocabulary, which in turn will enhance their life learning. They had about a week or two depending on the topic we were covering to complete their vocabulary.  This particular time I had a student, named Summer, who tried to turn in her vocabulary early.  She had completed everything in two days; she had the due date mixed up.  As a teacher, I never collected work early.  Because I wanted students to be responsible for keeping up with their work but also for collecting so many assignments, I did not want to misplace it or have it get mixed up with another assignment. I explained that she would have to turn it in on the due date.   A week or so goes by and students turn in their vocabulary and we have the unit test. Summer earned an A on the test.  After receiving her test back, she came up after class and said you know this test was easy.  I had to ask why.  She said since I worked on my vocabulary words early, I understood all the readings and discussion.  Studying for the test did not take as long either.  Summer went on to say she was going to do her vocabulary quickly in the future so that the whole class would be easy.  My thought was to imagine that.


Studying vocabulary is something that students do not like.  Students often do not understand how

important vocabulary can be.  As adults, we probably would not like having vocabulary homework as

well, but when learning new content for our jobs or a hobby we increase our vocabulary to understand

the task.  It is just not as formal as having an assignment.  At the end of every school year at the end of

the year, I would ask the students to tell me “What is their favorite thing in class and their least favorite thing?”  I always want to engage students and ignite their curiosity for learning.  If there is something, I can do to get them more interested in History I am ready to take on the challenge. To no surprise, vocabulary is on the least favorite thing list.  However, in many cases the students have written in next to that choice, I hated vocabulary but it helped me learn the content.  Hearing that I feel like I have done my job.


We are living in a world where there is information everywhere and people can access information more easily and at a moment's notice.  However, what the people of today need to be able to do is understand what the information is saying, through the vocabulary used.  Knowing the vocabulary used helps to solve what the information is saying.  Vocabulary opens up the world to future generations. Vocabulary ties the content together.  As a teacher, I want my students to grow into well-informed civic-minded adults and they can do that through vocabulary.  What word do you need to look up?


About the Author


Michelle Neyrey was born in Louisiana and is now living in Kingwood, Texas. She has been an educator for over 20 years in private and public schools. She writes curriculum and creates strategies that work in the classroom. She has written and acquired grants to bring heightened engagement to the classroom. She was named teacher of the year at two different campuses. For the past ten years, she has presented to hundreds of teachers at Regional, State, and National conferences. She is a Social Studies Specialist for Spring Independent School District, she writes curriculum and presented Teacher Professional Development for the past seven years.


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На мою думку, потрібно завжди бути в інформаційному просторі, адже новини стали важливою частиною нашого життя. Дуже добре, коли є якісний новинний портал, який надає всі найсвіжіші та найдостовірніші новини. Я користуюся саме таким порталом і саме він надав мені детальну інформацію про знакову особистість - Максима Кріппу. Максим https://cyberworld.com.ua/tag/maksym-krippa/ відомий не лише як успішний інвестор у сфері нерухомості, а й як активний учасник розвитку технологічного сектору України. Підприємець став власником кіберспортивної команди NAVI та розробника культової відеогри S.T.A.L.K.E.R., компанії GSC Game World. Це свідчить про його неабиякий професіоналізм та жагу до досягнення нових вершин. За такими особистостями, як Максим Кріппа, приємно спостерігати, адже розумієш, що він діє від щирого серця.

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