How to develop a strong vocabulary
By Chris Pearse
06 Mar

A good vocabulary is integral to success in 11+/common entrance exams. Besides, learning new words should be fun and something that you can do with the people around you. This article will provide useful suggestions on how to develop a deep and wide vocabulary.

Reading is the main way to become exposed to new words. As you read and uncover new words, we suggest using a combination of attempting to derive their meaning in the context of the sentence, as well as looking up the meaning in the dictionary. Recording unfamiliar words is also useful as returning to more complex vocabulary will help with retention. Building these words into your everyday vocabulary and keeping a journal/list of all the new words will ensure that you are building a strong word bank. A new word everyday can be a great technique for developing a wider vocabulary and trying to use that word frequently during the day with your friends can help reinforce this. There are some brilliant apps on the market that will send a ‘word of the day’ to your phone. 

It is important to recognise that we recall things by associations. Therefore, if a child can’t remember a word in an examination, it is best to recall some other fact associated with it. If we take the word ‘arid’ and ask the child to remember it means dry it might not be retained. However, if we show them the image below and explain that ‘arid’ would be a good word to describe this picture it has a greater association.

arid image

A singular word on a card or page doesn’t help develop a mental image, while providing the word in context or showing a picture of the word can help, so that it ‘sticks’. The key to learning words quickly and effectively is creating an image that is memorable. Often comical images can ensure the word becomes more relevant. We all seem to remember and recall comic events that happen in our own lives!

There are plenty of wonderful word games that will challenge your word knowledge and help you discover new meanings. Examples include: Bananagrams, Scrabble, crosswords, word searches or Boggle. These games which can often be played with others will help engage in conversations around word definitions.

The wonderful verbal reasoning and English books produced by Galore Park will help your child be exposed to a deep vocabulary. Practising synonym and antonym questions can be a great way to put that word building to the test.

In summary we know learning words is about repetition and this ensures the vocabulary ‘sticks’ in our brains. There are many techniques and strategies that should help with that retention and certainly making new words memorable either through context, comedy or imaginary will strengthen your child’s vocabulary.

Remember you hold the key to a stronger word knowledge!

Chris Pearse is the author of several Galore Park Verbal Reasoning resources.‚Äč


Tags: 11+ English, English, reasoning, Verbal Reasoning

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