Recently, we noticed a teacher from Michigan tweeting a Vocabulary List he made on Vocabulary.com to his AP English Lit students. The list was stocked with twelve A+ words pulled from a William Faulkner short story, including perpetuity, tarnish, and pallid. We were impressed. But we couldn't help but notice that something was missing: context.
In word learning, context is king. The Common Core rightfully puts it at the center of its vocabulary-learning emphasis, and we here at Vocabulary.com weave opportunities to see words as they really appear in the world into our game, Dictionary, and Lists every chance we can.
Why? Because learning from context is what your brain already knows how to do. Each time you encounter an unfamiliar word, you remind yourself of what you already know about it, and glean new meaning from the new context in which it now appears. You're so accustomed to learning words in this way, it feels effortless.
So how do you bring some of this effortlessness to learning a list of words? With example sentences! Using our list building tool, cut and paste up to 100 pages of electronic text into the list builder, click "grab vocab," and we'll pull not just vocabulary from the text, but a text-specific sentence for each word. (Watch this short video to see this process in action. And note that context is easy to add even if you aren't pulling words from text. Just click "Add example sentence" when you enter a word.)
To see how this will all turn out, look at our revised AP Lit Faulkner list, which we offer to our to our friends in Michigan. It's got the same even dozen of excellent words. Only this time, you can learn those words straight from Faulkner's pen.
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