Dec 26

3 Best Reasons to Expand Your Vocabulary

For a very long time, the importance of vocabulary in language learning was disregarded. But during the past few decades, the vocabulary has shifted from a peripheral to a central role. Even a cursory glance at contemporary linguistic research suggests that this overlooked “Cinderella of foreign language learning” is receiving more and more attention.

 

We believe that this attention is well-deserved because learning a new language relies heavily on vocabulary, which includes not just words but also their meaning, spelling, pronunciation, context, and conjugation. All of those areas of vocabulary learning are developed in our Online Vocabulary program. You can find out more about it here

Here are three main justifications for why making an effort to broaden and develop your vocabulary is worthwhile:

3 Best Reasons to Expand Your Vocabulary

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  1. The Key to Communication is Vocabulary.

The ability to communicate in a foreign language is the ultimate goal of learning for the vast majority of students. Learning vocabulary is not just helpful, but absolutely necessary in a foreign language context if you do not want to rely solely on nonverbal abilities.

Keith S. Folse, a seasoned researcher, and teacher of second languages, has examined common misconceptions concerning vocabulary. One of these fallacies is that “Vocabulary is not as crucial in learning a foreign language as Grammar or other areas”. Folse dispels this widespread myth by pointing out that his worst communication breakdowns have occurred when he lacked the necessary terminology. Folse recounts his anecdotal experience attempting to purchase flour in a small shop in Japan without being able to pronounce the word “flour” in Japanese. It didn’t work to know numerous grammatically right ways to inquire, and it didn’t work to term flour “pre-bread”. Folse finally left the store after a long and frustrating hour, but without the flour.

There is a reason we typically bring a dictionary instead of a grammar book when we travel. Without grammar, very little can be communicated; without vocabulary, nothing can be said, according to British linguist David A. Wilkins (4).

 

  1. A Wide Vocabulary Enables You to Sharpen Other Abilities.

Vocabulary is essential, well that’s true, but what about the other aspects? Should we give the other facets of language learning any thought?

We should, of course. The good news is that expanding your vocabulary directly and favorably affects your ability to increase your overall language skills. Paul Nation, a renowned linguist, and researcher, says: “Vocabulary is not an end in itself. When your working memory is free from doubts about the proper spelling, pronunciation, and contextual use of the words, you can concentrate fully on higher-level aspects of language, such as using precise sentence structures and appropriate expressions for the type of conversation that is going on. A rich vocabulary makes the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing easier to perform.

Overall, it would be more advantageous to think of vocabulary as a firm foundation upon which to improve overall language competency as opposed to contrasting it with other language skills.

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  1. Knowing More Words Will Help You Learn More.

Vocabulary can be acquired through deliberate, concentrated study, but it is more frequently acquired in an indirect way through reading and hearing, where the meaning is deduced from the context.

However, this type of accidental learning can only occur if there are a few words that are still unknown. To put it another way, you need a sizable vocabulary to be able to pick up new terms from the context in which they are used. This clearly represents a disadvantage for students who have a smaller vocabulary, but it also indicates that “those who have a larger vocabulary can use that vocabulary to study even more.”

The next time you study, keep in mind that expanding your vocabulary also expands your potential to learn more; your efforts will eventually pay off in the form of easier and more effective vocabulary learning. Words will carry you far when you learn a new language.

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