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Vocabulary Building

Learning new vocabulary isn't just for kids!

Often we think that once we leave school we are done with vocabulary. Yet the truth is, we continue to learn new words; be it new portmanteaus, like "puggle,"

(poodle+ pug), new slang, or simply a word that you have never heard before - ever use the word, "edentulous?" (without or lacking teeth).

Why it's important:

1) Vocabulary knowledge sets us up to be better readers and it also helps us to be divergent thinkers. There is a rich body of research documenting the premise that gaining vocabulary is the way to academic success.

2) Learning new words changes the way your brain functions, as it links together the visual cortex ,and limbic system with the language cortex, helping you to create a visual, auditory and emotional representation of a word. Try using the words love and hate without using your amygdala (emotion center of the brain) and hippocampus (which forms new memories about past experiences). All of these parts of the brain are vital to understanding words because they help us make words more meaningful!

3) Learning new words provides us with a new perspective and better cultural understanding. It also aids in comprehending new concepts which help us to have divergent thoughts. This can be as simple as adding new culturally different food items to your vocabulary, to learning the meaning of idioms in other cultures. For example, "Raining cats and dogs" turns into "It's raining troll women" if you're Norwegian.


1) MAKE IT PERSONAL: To learn, remember, and use a new word, you must first attach a part of your experiences to it. Let's say you don't know the word, "egg." So to remember it, first you create a picture of the object in your head, then you attach that image to a personal memory, such as "Easter egg hunting with grandma." The next time you come across it, you have a personal reason to recall its name and are more likely to actually recall it!

2) USE IT LIKE A TODDLER : Ever get sick of hearing a toddler ask, "why, " a million times? Maybe they are repeating the word because they like the sound of it? Or because they discover it gets an immediate reply from a grown-up? Whatever the reason, using a word over and over and over helps you to learn it because repetition is important and added bonus, others respond to it making it more fun.

3) EXPAND: Take that word and expand how you use it. Put it in a sentence, use it in conversation, write it on your phone. Expand not only how, but where you use something new and you will remember it better and faster.

4) READ: Did you know that one of the reasons we ask parents to read to their kids is because of the vastly different kinds of words in books when compared to everyday speech? How do toddlers know the word "blustery?" Because Winnie-The -Pooh had a blustery day! Books and other texts supply us with a richer exposure to words and children who are read to regularly, enter pre-K and kindergarten with a larger vocabulary. All these things are true for adults as well, whether you are expanding your vocabulary or learning a new language.


5) Check out our Events page for more AMAZING ideas to build that vocabulary. Like Tech? Check this App out: Monkey Spot Scavenger Hunt

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