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Vocabulary – An Ongoing Process

Developing a vocabulary is an ongoing process that continues throughout your life. As you grow, your method of learning and adding to your new vocabulary has slowed. When you were younger you learned something new day in and day out. You kept squeezing every moment of the day into a new and different learning situation. You continually asked questions and drove yourself to learn more. Look at the following examples:

  • At the age of four you probably knew 5,600 words
  • At the age of five you probably knew 9,600 words
  • At the age of six you probably knew 14,700 words
  • At the age of seven you probably knew 21,200 words
  • At the age of eight you probably knew 26,300 words
  • At the age of nine you probably knew 29,300 words
  • At the age of 10 you probably knew 34,300 words
  • As a college sophomore you probably knew 120,000 words

What this tells you, is that the more you learn, the more vocabulary you will know. No matter what your age, you must continue to learn. Words are "symbols" for ideas. These ideas formulate knowledge and knowledge is gained largely through words.

Some suggestions that may help you:

  • Read. The more you read, the more words you will come in contact with.
  • Use newfound vocabulary in your everyday communication (writing, speaking).
  • Become familiar with the glossaries of your textbooks.
  • Become familiar with the dictionary. Understand the pronunciation keys, as well as why there are multiple meanings for words.
  • Try to learn five new words a day and use them in your communication process. Without using these new words, learning them is a waste of time
  • Read books from fields other than your major.
  • Read books that interest you and concentrate while you read.