According to linguist David Wilkins, Without grammar little can be conveyed, without vocabulary, nothing can be conveyed. That single sentence pretty much sums up the importance of vocabulary learning.
Students should develop an impressive range of vocabulary while learning a foreign language that can help them properly express their thoughts and ideas in that language. And vocabulary exercises play an important role in building a strong foundation for that.
Vocabulary exercises are activities focused on understanding and memorizing the vocabulary words better. With these activities, students can have a clearer idea about the meaning, usage, pronunciation etc. of a word.
The activities require a lot of brainwork and use different types of memories so that the student never forgets the word and can actively use it whenever required.
In this article, we will explore different types of vocabulary exercises and learn how they can help us improve our language skills.
Without knowing the proper word for an object, one can hardly express what they want even if they know all the grammar rules in that language. Imagine you went to a store to buy a shirt but dont know the word Shirt.
Well, you may still be able to buy it but express it with other words (like something you wear on your upper body') or you may point to the shirts on display. But no doubt, it will be a hassle. Therefore, a person should acquire as many words as possible to be able to express themselves without any problem.
But how many words should a person know? Do I need to learn all the words in the dictionary to be considered fluent? Of course not.
The English language has over 470,000 words. But to hold a basic conversation, approximately 800 words would be enough. But that means you are still in the beginner level. To be promoted to the Intermediate level, you need to know more than a thousand words. And to be considered fluent, be ready to learn more than 16,000 words.
Learning this many words in a foreign language needs proper guidance and continuous practice. Vocabulary exercises are the best way to ensure regular practice as they help you memorize the new words with context and remember old words so that you can expand your vocabulary in an organized way.
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When discussing vocabulary learning, we often focus more on ways that help students acquire more words. Students are advised to read more books, and dictionaries, maintain notebooks to keep a list of learned words etc. But vocabulary exercises are hardly mentioned which makes people question the importance of this particular practice. Well
Without practice, a student will forget what they learnt in no time. It is very easy to forget a word you just learnt but never used in your conversation or writing. That is why teachers always encourage the students to use the vocabulary words in daily life to memorize them easily. Vocabulary exercises make the process a lot easier.
Think about vocabulary word lists. They contain lots of words with meaning, and maybe example sentences too. Students are often asked to read the lists and memorize the words.
Let me be frank, its boring! You will be bored within a short time and eventually learn only a handful of words. Also, this approach has little to no use for students with short attention spans.
Now, try to complete the list with the help of vocabulary exercises. You divide the list into smaller parts. After completing a part, you use some fun exercises like scrabble, word puzzle or using words in your writing. You can feel that the words are easier to remember and use.
You learn the context, can successfully use it and above all, you enjoy the activity. The approaches you take to learn a language will become more effective with exercises.
One might think that most of the activities require only to either read the word from a passage or write the word in a sentence. That is not true at all. There are different types of vocabulary exercises that require listening and speaking skills.
For example, in SpellQuiz Spelling Test, the student needs to listen to an audio clip and write down the full sentence with accurate spelling. This test definitely assesses your spelling skill which is immensely important if you are using the vocabulary words in your writing.
But it also evaluates your listening skill. You need to have profound knowledge of the pronunciation of the words and be able to detect them by listening.
Using the newly learned words in your conversation is a wonderful vocabulary exercise you can practice. You can set a goal for yourself. Make a list of words you want to use in daily conversation and plan to use all of them within a given time.
You can practice these conversations with your fellow language learners, family, and friends. It will also boost your confidence in holding a conversation in a foreign language.
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Every student at one point, becomes bored with the traditional way of language learning, especially at the intermediate level. As mentioned earlier, it needs only more than a thousand words to be considered an intermediate level learner but more than 16,000 words to be considered fluent.
So, at one time, a student might feel that all their efforts are ending up in smoke. Many even start thinking about giving up.
But systematic practice can help you overcome this frustration. You can track how many words you have already mastered and how many more to go. Also, at the intermediate level, students tend to focus more on grammar which halts the process of vocabulary improvement. It is important to continue the vocabulary exercises to pass this level faster.
You can also cheer yourself up in some fun ways such as joining competitions. SpellQuiz Spelling Bee Online is a spelling bee competition held online where students around the world compete against each other. You can show your skill on this global platform and have a sense of achievement.
There are scoreboards showing the top participants of the day, week, month, and all-time to encourage students to put more effort into learning more words. Competitions like this will help you regain your interest in learning the language.
If you are hesitant about joining a competition right away, try SpellQuiz Practice test. You can practice as much as you want before joining the main competition. You might be unfamiliar with online competitions, so this practice test also gives you a chance to get accustomed to the new environment. When you feel confident enough, join the competition and show the world your potential.
Now that we learnt how vocabulary exercises will help us, its time to learn about different types of vocabulary exercises and start practising them. But before that, here are some tips for you to get better results:
Practising vocabulary exercises that are appropriate for your level is the fastest way to progress. Many intermediate students practice advanced level exercises hoping this will help them advance faster but the result, in fact, is totally opposite.
Advanced level exercises require advanced level skills which an intermediate level learner doesnt have. So, this practice slows down the total progress.
Also, practising beginner-level vocabulary exercises will do no good either. No one likes to do the same task again and again. You have already mastered them so you might lose interest in learning as a result.
You will find plenty of exercises on the internet that is suitable for your level. Consult with your teacher about suitable exercises. If you are a teacher, monitor your students carefully so that you have a better understanding of their capabilities. Follow the school curriculum to get ideas on how to design the exercises.
Traditionally, students are only taught the meaning of the words. That is not enough to be able to use it properly. If you are teaching new words to your students, always add context.
Teach them about how to use it and when to use it. Even though some words are synonymous, they cannot replace each other in every case. Ake sure that your students know about it.
Vocabulary exercises are immensely helpful in this case. Use activities that teach the students about different uses of a word. Give a situation to the student and ask if a particular word would be appropriate to use in it. Make sure the activities are interactive and students enjoy performing them.
Not just teachers, students, especially ESL learners can create their own vocabulary exercises to assess their skills regularly. First, find out which learning method works for you and then create exercises accordingly.
Different types of activities are available both online and offline that may work for you. You can use the conventional MCQ questions, Word Matching, Fill in the Gaps etc. or you could follow the unconventional ways such as Crossword Puzzles or other word games.
Translating activities are also helpful as they allow you to enhance your skill in both languages. Its not uncommon to find a new word in your mother language while searching for the meaning of a word in a foreign language.
There is no strict rule on which way you should follow. Whatever works for you is acceptable. So dont shy away from using different methods and experiment with them. Good Luck!
If you are looking for fun vocabulary exercises or approaches to make your learning process easier, check out SpellQuiz Blogs.
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