Recently, I was asked a question that went something like this:
Is a separate vocabulary study really advantageous and effective
at broadening the vocabulary in real life, or is reading the best way to build vocab?
I am not one to say that anything is “the best way” for everybody. I *would*say, however, that mastery learning is the best method for truly learning any subject. You keep on going until the material is learned…at least for the moment, and hopefully for MUCH longer than that. One moves on when everything is thoroughly understood.
With this in mind, yes, I think that learning via a vocab program has immense value. Memorizing a list of words is not nearly as effective as manipulating those words via exercises, sentence-writing, etc. to facilitate and demonstrate mastery. The rate of retention is going to be much higher for the student when the words are used and used some more than if a simple rote-memory drill is all that is employed.
Of course you know that I would say that READING is extremely important to vocabulary development, but so is vocab study itself. I personally enjoy studying new words, and I have learned many through the vocab program that I developed. LOL These two pieces go hand in hand.
The learning of vocabulary has to be attached to something animate such as word finds, word puzzles, and other ways to manipulate those words in order for the student to commit them to memory and *recognize* them as they come across the words IN the reading. Context clues in reading are certainly not foolproof ways for a student to learn the language.
If I were trying to learn a language, I would most certainly look at individual words and study the meanings of those individual words in order to recognize them as I learned to use them with increasing skill. You can not divorce word study from language as a whole. Almost all foreign language programs stress vocabulary study development for
The short answer is that both reading and vocab study are essential to a thorough understanding of English, or any other language for that matter. The more “pieces” of the puzzle the student has to work with, the more complete the puzzle will be in the end.
Does one *have* to have a child study vocab separately? No. But I highly advise it and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we would be missing a whole lot if we didn’t study words here in my little world.