The Value of Vocabulary Building

Words are unique and interesting.  A limited vocabulary keeps you from expressing your real thoughts and feelings.  A strong vocabulary gives you the right words to use at the right time.

Vocabulary building takes patience and continued effort.  Your vocabulary can and should be a reflection of you.  Your vocabulary is you.  And like you, your vocabulary should be alive.  It should change and grow to meet your needs.

The Purpose of Vocabulary

Words are great subjects to investigate.  When you become a student of language, and delight in discovering word relationships, and become aware of how you can make words work for you, you are more likely to stop when you encounter an unfamiliar word and consider its meaning.  If you do this, you will become a master of words and your vocabulary will grow.  You must develop strategies to conquer unfamiliar words when you find them in your college textbooks and in your learning to make words work for you.  (Hennings, p. xvii)

Why Vocabulary Development Counts

  • Vocabulary is a basic part of reading comprehension.  If you don't know enough words, you are going to have trouble understanding what you read.  An occasional word may not stop you, but if there are too many words you don't know, comprehension will suffer.  The content of textbooks is often challenging enough; you don't want to work as well on understanding the words that express that content.

  • Vocabulary is a major part of almost every standardized test, including reading achievement tests, college entrance exams, and armed forces and vocational placement tests.  Vocabulary is a key measure of both one's learning and one's ability to learn.  The more words you know, then, the better you are likely to do on such important tests.

  • Studies have indicated that students with strong vocabularies are more successful in school and that a good vocabulary is an influential factor for people who enjoy successful careers in life.  Words are the tools not just of better reading, but of better writing, speaking, listening, and thinking as well.  The more words you have at your command, the more effective your communication can be, and the more influence you can have on the people around you.

  • In today's world, a good vocabulary counts more than ever.  Many jobs provide services or process information, and the skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking are essential.  The keys to survival and success in the workplace are the abilities to communicate skillfully and learn quickly. a solid vocabulary is essential for both of these skills.  (Nist & Mohr, p. 1)

Improving your Vocabulary

Throughout your college years, new words will be flooding into your consciousness.  Many of them are the keys to ideas and information that will be new to you.  When students have trouble in a course, the trouble can often be traced back to their imperfect comprehension of terms that are essential to an understanding of subject matter.  A first-year science or social science course may introduce you to almost as many new words as a first course in a foreign language.  Then there are also words which may not literally be new to you, but which have specific meanings within the context of a specific course and therefore must be learned as if they were new words.

For a college student, a large, wide-ranging vocabulary is a necessary tool for grasping fundamental ideas and facts.  Words are the tools of communication, learning, and thinking, and a student with an inadequate vocabulary cannot function effectively and efficiently. (Pauk, p. 308)