Using 'Wow Words' the Right Way
You may think 'wow words' is a very basic and simple way to say 'ambitious vocabulary'. But you need to 'Keep It Simple' wherever you can.
Now everyone's 'Wow words' vary, depending on the individual's memory bank, and how many different ways your child has collected words throughout the years.
Whether through reading or exposure to:
A person's environment.
A person's culture or religion
A person's social circles
This can affect the capacity of the number of words your child can remember or use daily.
Which words are your child's 'wow words'?
Now, let's take a look at an example of a vocabulary list for KS3 (11yrs - 13yrs old)
Set 1 – “shun” endings
And a vocabulary list for KS4 (14yrs - 16yrs)
Now you must be thinking, MOST of the words on the KS3 list are basic, and ALL of the words on the KS4 vocabulary lists are 'wow words', but as I said before, it depends on the child and their exposure to these words.
My 'Wow Word' Experience
Sometimes as parents or educators, you may think what a may child know already. The most valuable piece of gems I have learned in my teacher training, is before you start teaching a class find out - what do they already know?
I know that sounds so simple, but You may feel you already know what your child is exposed to, or what they like to read, or even if they actually READ! but you can be pleasantly surprised or sometimes disappointed.
But this is all based on expectations, and these need to be matched with the facts. So it is always good to have an open conversation and find out what does your child know and like.
Shakespeare Vs the Bible
Now, you must be thinking, what are the similarities between the two. But I successfully managed to find a clearer understanding of Shakespeare's vocabulary, because of my knowledge I already retained of particular words from the Bible.
Surprisingly, I had a Love/Hate relationship with Shakespeare, a young but ignorant me at the time just didn't understand "Why they had to speak like that?" and this resulted in a splitting headache.
I used to read the King James Version of the Bible, which was first translated in 1611 and funny enough, that is the same era as Shakespeare, who wrote most of his plays in 1599.
I first read this book about Shakespeare in university, and it gave me a newfound appreciation of Shakespeare and his work.
But words such as "Thy", "Hence", "Thou", "Art" I realized I knew what they meant when my English teacher asked the class. I raised my hand and said:
"Thy means - your"
"Hence means - for this reason"
"Thou means - you"
"Art means - are"
Teacher: "How did you know that?"
Me: "I know that from the Bible".
Teacher: "Oh.....well done"
Now the teacher's reaction was not the most elated one, but the point is, they thought they knew what I already knew and we do this all the time as parents and educators.
Therefore, the lesson is always to find out what your child's knowledge. It is a game-changer!
Also, my lecturer in university made Shakespeare more of a human being to me and less of a God in literature.
He said, "Look! Everyone goes on about how wonderful Shakespeare is, but remember, he was just a working-class guy that was exceptionally talented in his writing. But many people didn't give him the time of day".
This statement from my lecturer made Shakespeare more interesting to me. He seemed more of a human and young people like when images or stories are more tangible and relevant to them, so they can learn to understand it on a personal level.
The best online programs to use to improve your child's vocabulary
Now we all live very busy lives, so it is always useful to have online programs that your child can use at home, which would help them improve their vocabulary.
As I always say to my parents and students, learning is a process, and especially building up your vocabulary is a life long process, where it is only developed with consistency and practice.
So here are the top online programs your child can use to develop their vocabulary further:
1. Bedrock Learning Vocabulary
I highly recommend this program. It is very interactive and provides a vocabulary list that is ideal for your child's ability. They also have great comprehension activities and quizzes on particular topics that your child learns in English.
Your child will get a mark out of 100% for every quiz taken and if they get a high mark they will move to another level (Block) that would be more challenging for them.
They used to offer this program solely to schools, but now they are offering it to parents, some of my online students are now using it and they love it!
Also, I have seen a massive improvement in their vocabulary!
The aim of this program is for your child to not only memorize words but to master them. It is like an interactive dictionary and offers the etymology (history/origin) of a word. They have also got a student account where your child can access it independently. So much better than the thesaurus or dictionary on google.
Most children are visual learners, so this program is great way of getting them engaged in exploring new words with incredible graphics. It also offers a 3D mind map of synonyms or other words that are phonetically associated with the word.
4. Online Etymology Dictionary
This program will not only show you the definition of the word but also the etymology (history/origin of that word) with useful links and images.
Similar to vocabulary.com and a great way for your child to understand the word and where it comes from.
so you learning English and History at the same time!!
So to conclude, always remember to:
Find out what your child already knows - never make assumptions and ask them questions to see if they understand certain words.
Use one of the online programs to help them feel more comfortable to explore and build up their vocabulary.
Most importantly - get them to Read, Read, Read!
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