Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Note: Excuse the interruption in my blog. My last entry was on May 24. It wasn't my fault. The wizards at Blogger decided to do maintenance and proceeded to botch up everything. I could no longer post anything. I won't tell you all the troubles I've had in trying to fix the problem. Enough to say that I wasted the better part of a day--after the wizards allowed me to access the blog-- before deciding to try another browser. Why can't techies leave well enough alone? If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it!. RayS.

Question: Why is it a waste of time to “teach” vocabulary?

Answer: The best way to develop vocabulary is, according to the author of this article, to encourage wide reading. Here are the principles he has formulated for developing extensive vocabularies:

. Students have to have a genuine need to know, an interest in what they are reading.

. “Contextual clues, e.g., pictures on a page, titles, the font and layout, the table of contents and lots of other, subtle helpers….”

.”Prior knowledge of the subject, which often means using films, the Internet or other ways to give students enough context to enjoy their reading.”

In short, the author of this article believes that reading is the key to developing extensive vocabularies.

Comment: I can’t argue with that. However, I still say that Norman Lewis’s Word Power Made Easy is the best vocabulary book on the market. Go to and look it up and see what people say about it. Their responses are as glowing today as when I used it with 9th- and 11th graders in the late 1950’s and mid-1960s. Lewis treats words as ideas, and his basic principle is, along with the author’s, making students interested in the words they are learning. He builds his vocabulary training on the many Latin and Greek roots. RayS.

Title: “Why I No Longer Teach Vocabulary.” Jerry Heverly. English Journal (March 2011), 98-100.

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