We have all seen this tired loop of "instruction": distribute word list, have students look up words, ask students to use the words in original sentences. While encouraging usage is never a bad idea, it's not realistic to expect students to pivot from definition to usage without guidance. We suggest ditching (or at least delaying) the idea of originality and instead asking students to model their sentences on usage examples written by those people who are especially skilled with using words: professional writers. Continue reading...
One of the most persistent myths about word acquisition is that students don't need to be taught words; they just need to read more and their vocabularies will magically expand. This theory — which I like to call "learning words by osmosis" — doesn't hold much promise for your average or struggling reader. While it may hold true for a select group of students who are strong, avid readers possessing a curiosity about words, most students don't learn words by simply encountering them in reading. Continue reading...
When middle school literature teacher Kathy Zimbaldi first pitched the idea of Vocabulary.com to her principal at St. Vincent de Paul School in Houston, TX, she was pretty sure the tool would bring meaningful word learning to the literature curriculum. What she didn't realize? It would also help her hack Summer Reading...and land her students a David-beats-Goliath feel good monthly leaderboard win. Continue reading...
In a rapid-response survey of candidates' vocabulary in the first GOP debate, broadcast last night on Fox News, Vocabulary.com analyzed the transcript to identify each candidate's most relevant vocabulary word. And the data-driven approach yielded some interesting results about the candidates' language use. Continue reading...
Pluto is coming into startingly sharp focus, thanks to the first images and data received from the space probe New Horizons last week. As we learn more about this distant cousin of Earth, we're also expanding our linguistic horizons. Here's a closer look at some of the words and names in the Plutonian news. Continue reading...
What sounds do you make when words fail? A garbled stutter? A whistle? Or is there just the resounding bump of your jaw hitting the floor? Turns out, there are words to capture the wordless shock we experience when we're confronted by mess, noise, violence, or otherwise sticky situations. They're linked by sound: repeated syllables and long vowels that are onomatopoeically evocative of the sounds that come out of our mouths when our brains are overwhelmed. Continue reading...
The Supreme Court has issued a decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and as significant as that may be, as vocabularians, we can't get past the sighting of jiggery-pokery in Justice Antonin Scalia's dissenting opinion. Continue reading...
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