We at Vocabulary.com love words. We love defining them, making lists of them, exploring homophones and anagrams, playing word-based games. When a word we’ve never heard before pops up in our Challenge play, it’s like discovering a new island in the Pacific or a trove of dinosaur bones hidden for millenia — it excites us to think that they were there all along.
But we will concede that not everyone comes to vocabulary learning out of love. There are many useful, practical reasons why you would want to build up your vocabulary without exactly enjoying the process, and many who are playing the Challenge are in that take-your-medicine camp. We salute you. No pressure to join us in the logophile land. The only question we want to ask, however, is can you learn about words as effectively when you don’t actually care?
According to Richard Harris, professor of psychology at Kansas State University, lack of interest, not quality of memory, drives our brain’s ability to retain information. (Read about this here.) As good teachers know, once you harness your students' interest, they’re going to start learning on their own. So if that motivation and interest isn’t coming from the words themselves, where can you find it?
Our suggestion, and one of the fundamental reasons we believe a game is the best way to learn new words, is this: You get the interest and motivation to learn from competition. Did you know you can track your play against others in the Vocabulary.com community? Did you know that if you’re logged in through Facebook, you can play against your friends? (Watch a video on how to do both those things here.) Or do you simply compete against yourself, feeling good when you nail a question on a word you’ve been struggling with, or giving yourself an internal high five when an achievement shows up in the summary at the end of a round? If you answered yes to any of these questions, that’s good. It means that the game is working for you.
So keep playing! You’re in good hands.
Summer is the season of play, and we’re celebrating it on the Vocabulary.com Blog. Check out how playing our Challenge game might actually make you smarter here, new ways we invite you to play with us on Facebook and Twitter here, or how to play the Challenge with people you know and others in the Vocabulary.com community here.