Invest In Your 'Intellectual
Snack: Since individual words are the "seeds" of a big vocabulary, have a
snack of your favorite kinds of seeds and nuts, and "water" them with a big
glass of ice water!
Make or buy a little
notebook that can serve as
your vocabulary "bank
Negotiate with your
parent to "deposit" some kind of a reward
into your "account" for
every hour that you spend reading for fun
It doesn't have to be
money, although cash is always nice;
maybe you could read
for 100 hours to "earn" yourself a
pet mouse or guinea
pig, or maybe if you read 10 hours a week,
you and a friend could
go to an amusement park -
whatever you like -
just make a meaningful reward,
and READ FOR IT!
What's with adults, always harping on kids to read a
lot of books so they can grow a bigger vocabulary?
What's wrong with going through life with the only
words that come out of your mouth "awesome" or "whatever" all day, all month,
Why take time away from TV, sports, your iPod, and
hanging out with friends, to read difficult, boring books with complex
language, stories and themes?
Well, you read a lot if you want to
know a lot and be able to do better in school, and later on, in life.
Reading is like a paycheck for your brain: that's how
you can "earn" new vocabulary words, and "deposit" them in your brain so that
you become smarter and smarter.
And let's be clear: TV, sports, your iPod, and even
your friends are not likely to do much, if anything, to improve your
vocabulary. For that, you really need to be reading books for fun - maybe an
hour a day, if you can manage it. That's an hour ABOVE AND BEYOND your homework
And let's be clear on another point: the higher-level
thinking that you do when you read complex books is anything BUT boring.
It's the best way to get a big vocabulary, and a big
vocabulary is the best way to get a great future.
Vocabulary is the framework and the fuel for making
dreams come true. Just as a business owner uses money to invest in more
equipment and employees to expand sales and profits, you can use vocabulary to
get you where you want to go, both with your education and your career.
But if you DON'T have a big
vocabulary - if you DON'T know what a lot of words mean - you are going to face
obstacles everywhere you turn. That's because the more words you know, the
bigger your knowledge base and skill set - the more things you are going to be
capable of reading, writing, thinking and doing.
In fact, they say, "Vocabulary is
According to education leader E.D.
Hirsch, founder of the Core Knowledge series of quality curriculum (www.coreknowledge.org), a big
vocabulary is the biggest and best boost to a high score on a college
The SAT, for example, is based on a
working vocabulary of 60,000 to 100,000 words. You can have that if you add
about 15 new words a day to
your vocabulary from ages 2 to 17.
But by definition, schoolbooks are written at or
below your grade level. They don't introduce you to too many new words in a
school year. You're lucky if you learn 15 new words a week, or a month, if you
don't have your own vocabulary-building system.
The novels selected for most school curricula are far
less well-written and use far fewer complex words as the classics, at least
until high school. And even then, sometimes only the honors classes get to read
the "big" books.
Why is this? Because so many
students lack sufficient vocabulary to handle
the "big" books. And that's because their parents didn't keep them reading outside
school past a basic level of competence. So their vocabularies failed to grow.
The answer is that you need to be
immersed in the world of language and knowledge - reading a lot of books outside
Rich, well-educated parents know
this, and make sure their children have a lot of books in their home, go to the
library a lot, and always have a book in their backpacks to handle "down time"
when it comes up.
`Books expose students to more words than they could
ever hope to hear in class or read in textbooks, not to mention words of higher
quality and complexity from a wider range of fields.
Books also are designed to create hope, curiosity,
confidence and other positives in the reader. That isn't always the case with
textbooks, which often descend into politicization, provocation, emotion and
Now, THERE are some big words that everybody
ought to know!