All children learn vocabulary words using the same methods that have been used for decades. They are given a list of words that have been gleaned from classroom textbooks and serving double purpose as a spelling list. They are then are asked to define them, use them in a sentence, memorize them to spell, and sometimes even put them in alphabetical order. The problem with these assignments is that they are boring and students lose interest in completing them. So, if the students get tired of doing the same things week after week, how much do they really learn from doing these exercises?
At the same time, teachers recognize the fact that a growing vocabulary leads to increased understanding and comprehension in reading, and that this skill is not isolated to English class. Better reading and comprehension increases math scores that deal with problem solving and assists with research in the sciences. Children with a greater vocabulary also have a greater ability in expressing themselves in both speaking and writing skills. All of which translates into better grades, higher SAT scores, and possible scholarships with more elite colleges.
One method teachers are using to help students with vocabulary acquisition is to utilize learning sites such as the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshops. Although these programs use similar tasks as the ones traditionally assigned in learning new words, they also provide games and puzzles in an online format that helps stimulate student interest and attentions while improving word retention. The students are having fun with their learning instead of seeing it as a chore.
Companion sites to the vocabulary workshops are the answer sites. Students can go to these sites to check their responses to the unit quizzes and make corrections. Eights graders in the level C workshops, for example, would find the Vocabulary Answer Level C and compare their work to that posted. Because most of these answers have been added by students who have taken the workshops previously, their definitions of a word may help clarify it for current students so corrections can be made and new understanding formed prior to the final test.
With so much learning now being done on the computer, it is almost antiquated to require students to learn new words the old fashioned way. Using programs and online sites designed to help students gain vocabulary skills helps to increase interest and with that comes increased learning.