How to Teach Vocabulary

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Teaching vocabulary is best done by encouraging students to break the words apart into prefixes, bodies and suffixes, and by linking an association with each vocabulary word. Make vocabulary an interactive lesson instead of just memorization with information from a standardized test prep instructor in this free video on education.

Part of the Video Series: Education: English, Math & Teaching
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Video Transcript

Let's talk about how to teach vocabulary. A lot of times people just resort to flash cards for vocabulary and that's great. Those are very very useful, but I find that students learn vocabulary much more quickly and more importantly, they integrate the material better and are able to use it later. They'll remember it longer if you have associations for the vocab. What I love to do is take a word and you either one of two methods depending on what's relevant. One is I like to break words apart. The other thing I like to do is to make associations. So breaking words apart. We're talking about the Latin roots and suffixes. And again it's not so much... I don't really like to give my students a list of suffixes and prefixes and roots and say memorize these. But it's even better to take words they know and break them apart and say take a look at this. So... or even words they don't know. So, here's a word... anachronistic. A lot of people don't know that word, but it breaks apart really well. The word... the prefix a usually means not, like amoral, atypical mean not moral, not typical. So when you do that... and again nobody knows anachronistic usually, but amoral they know, so they get oh, a means not. Chron... chron is a great word. People don't think they know it but they do. Chronology, chronological order, a chronograph... chronological order is the one they see the most. And that means in time order. So chron refers to time. So this word even if somebody may not know it, has to do with not time. And that's actually enough to get it right on the test or on the SAT or even context or in reading. It's enough to know where they're going with the work. Anachronistic actually means something that's in the wrong time period, like wearing a digital watch while acting out a Shakespeare play. That would be an anachronism. So a great way to learn vocabulary is to break it apart. It allows them to understand from inside and more importantly instead of learning just one word, they're going to learn a bunch of words 'cause any time they see a, they'll know it means not. Whenever they see chron, they'll now know it has to do with time. That's one method. Second method is associations. I love to take a word and show people how the word has been in a movie, in a movie title, in a song that they like. There's a deodorant I think called Arid Extra Dry for example. So arid it turns out means very dry. So when you learn that arid means very dry. You associate it with this deodorant, which obviously, you know, Arid Extra Dry is not going to be a deodorant that's called wet or smelly or something like that. It's going to be dry. That's what it's doing. It's an antiperspirant deodorant. So, it's a great association for arid and then people will never forget it. And again I love to do this with movies. A lot of movies have really great vocab in them and when you point that out to students... even watch a movie in class. Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Pirates of the Caribbean... these are some movies that actually have great vocab. And when you put it in you can even watch the movie together and then go over the fifty or more words that are in the movie.


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