Vocabulary is the name for the whole group of words a person knows. A person who has a good vocabulary knows the meanings and usages of thousands of words.
A good vocabulary and understanding of concepts is probably the most important of all language skills. A good vocabulary reflects children’s previous experience with language and their growing general knowledge. This knowledge is definitely related to literacy development and is linked to future academic success.
We all read the words we know more easily than words we don’t know. Children who are beginning to learn to read need a good oral vocabulary to help them decode words and make sense of text. Overtime the words children have in their oral vocabulary become part of their reading vocabulary. At about grade four children begin to read more difficult texts. At this age they are reading to learn as opposed to learning to read. To understand these new and more difficult texts, children need to know the meanings of most of the words they read. Children constantly need to learn the meanings of new words.
The Four Types of Vocabulary
Listening vocabulary – the words we need to know to understand what we hear.
Speaking vocabulary – the words we need to know to understand when we speak.
Reading vocabulary – the words we need to know to understand what we read.
Writing vocabulary – the words we use to write.
Vocabulary is the Cornerstone to Literacy
The importance of a good and growing vocabulary in literacy development cannot be overemphasized. Young children’s vocabulary development is enhanced through language rich environments and life experiences as well as by being read to regularly many times a week from birth. Older children develop vocabulary by these means and by personal reading. The size and quality of vocabulary has a great influence over children’s learning potential. Children should learn many new words every day to ensure good vocabulary development.
Here is an amazing fact; young children can learn two to eight new words per day. Children who can not take part in rich language environments and life experiences are at risk of learning fewer new words each and every day. It is clear that the vocabulary gap between children who have rich language experiences and learn about eight new words per day (3000 words per year) and those who only learn two new words per day (750 words per year) is ever increasing. At school this gap is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome.