Success Story: Erick

Erick is using Vocabulary.com in all of his classes to boost his comprehension in each content area. Now that he understands more words, he finds writing to be a lot easier and reading to be a lot more fun.
Grade:8th
Favorite Subject:Math
Favorite Book:Percy Jackson Series
Using Vocabulary.com for:2 years
  • When I first started using Vocabulary.com I didn't think that much of it, I didn't think I was going to use it as much as I use it today.
    Vocabulary.com: Tell us about when you first started using Vocabulary.com.
    Erick: When I first started using Vocabulary.com I didn't think that much of it, I didn't think I was going to use it as much as I use it today. So before I first started, my expectations weren't as high as they are now. I think the turning point was when I found out that I was first in 7th grade for my class. That's when I started to do vocabulary practice more and more — to stay in first place. I'm very competitive, I like to be in first place, so I try hard to be in first. And I also like just using Vocabulary.com because it helps me expand my vocabulary.
  • That made me feel like I accomplished something big because when I reached one million points I just felt good, I felt proud of myself.
    V: Can you talk more about what you like, how it’s going?
    E: Last year I think I ended the year with only 500,000 points or 600,000 points. And then this year, so far I have 2,385,275. And that means I've earned so far 1,700,000 this year. That made me feel like I accomplished something big because when I reached one million points I just felt good, I felt proud of myself.
  • V: What do you like about learning new words?
    E: Learning new words is good because then you can find more words to say a certain thing. Like, instead of saying bold, you could say this person had the audacity to do something. And stuff like that. It makes me feel smarter to know more words than I did before. I enjoy how you can add certain words that you can learn. Let's say there is a word that you don't know, so then you can look it up in the dictionary and then you can click “Start learning now”, and then when you go play the Challenge, they'll ask you questions about that word. And I like how it makes you master a word. Whenever I master a word it makes me feel good, especially if it's like a difficult word that I've been getting many questions on. When I finally master it, I feel like I climbed to the top of Mount Everest!
  • But then when I found Vocabulary.com it made the confusing words easy again.
    V: It’s great that you’re feeling successful. Have there been times that you struggled?
    E: I first started learning some English from watching TV and some from just my brother because he was going to school. So when I went to school initially, I was happy that I actually understood what the teacher was saying so it made it easier for me to learn more English. I didn't find English that difficult back then, because I was learning the basic words, but as I grew and grew, some words got confusing. Like there were some words that I didn't understand what they meant or just some words I couldn't pronounce. Whenever they gave me an essay I felt like I didn't I know what to write because I wasn't that good at writing thesis statements and hooks and all that. Writing just the first paragraph, it was hard for me. I didn't exactly feel hopeless, I knew I could do it, but I didn't know how I was going to be able to do it. That's how I felt. Like, let's say you're in a room — you know that you can get out — but you're not sure how you're going to be able to get out. Then sometimes I couldn't find that right word to use to make people want to read my essay.

    Before I was introduced to Vocabulary.com, they usually gave us just a list of words and told us to memorize them. That didn't help me that much. But then when I found Vocabulary.com it made the confusing words easy again. It not only shows the definition, it shows you how to use it in the context, what a synonym and an antonym would be, and how to pronounce it. So it was easier for me to find the right word to, like, make a hook for the essay. And it also helped me put better words inside of the essay to describe certain things instead of just using generic words.
  • V: We noticed that your teachers all teach vocabulary in the different subject areas. Can you tell us about that?
    E: So usually whenever Ms. Hyde [English teacher] assigns a list, it's either about a topic we're going to talk about in class or a text we're going to read. And it helps me because then I can understand what she says but if I didn't do this then I wouldn't be able to understand.

    Ms. McCormack [Math teacher] usually puts the vocabulary words that we are using in class, like the polynomial list, and that helped me understand the context of a word problem. It helped me understand the word when they were saying it in the problem. Things like polynomial, binomial. And like in class today, when I said, “an expression is x + 2, it does not have an equal sign.” So, that's basically what an expression is.

    In science, she puts up the list about words about a subject we’re going to do in class — she put one up about adaptations, with gene, breed, genetics, those were the words that we were using. Another list she put up was about motion physics. And because we use a text book sometimes, she also puts the vocabulary words from the textbook.
  • I remembered that I saw some of the words in Vocabulary.com. And I remembered learning them so it made it easier for me to identify the words and know what they meant.
    V: Part of school is standardized taking tests. Has having a strong vocabulary helped you?
    E: Yes, it did play a big role because during the test. One reading section was just like reading an article or passage and then answering questions about it. The next section was reading an excerpt of an article and then there's like an underlined word or phrase and then it says, “Is there something spelled wrong in this phrase or is there a better word to use in this phrase?” Or, “How do you change this phrase?” And during the questions I remembered that I saw some of the words in Vocabulary.com. And I remembered learning them so it made it easier for me to identify the words and know what they meant.
  • V: It sounds like doing well in school is important to you.
    E: I'm trying to get good grades, and I’m trying to do good in school and keep a good permanent record because I want to get into one of the Ivy League colleges like Harvard, Yale, I think it was Princeton and Cornell, University of Pennsylvania I think is one. Because the acceptance rate is so low, so that's why I'm trying to get high scores on all the tests and get good grades because I want to go to one of those good colleges.
  • V: Who are your role models?
    E: My parents are my role models because they went to college, but in their country. They always tell me, “Work hard so you're not going to have a bad future. Work hard, study, do your work put, first things first.” They want to see me in big places. What inspires me about them is how hard they work to provide for me and my brother and and themselves and also my grandma. And I just want to be a hard worker like them because you know they've just helped me along the way.
  • V: It seems like you’re a big reader. Tell us more about the importance of books in your life.
    E: What I enjoy most about reading is it's just entertaining and I can visualize what's happening because the author describes the scene. I can just visualize what the character is doing.

    I don't have a favorite book but I do have a favorite book series. So far my favorite book series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians because of how good the story is and not only does it have action it also has some humor. At the end of the books they have a cliffhanger, but if you read the next book you can find out what happens. But then there’s also the plot that continues throughout all five books about Percy when he becomes sixteen. So you don't know what will happen until you read the last book, and that's what makes me want to finish all the books.
  • I started reading more difficult books since I started using Vocabulary.com.
    V: That’s so satisfying! And how great that you can read whatever you want these days.
    E: Yeah, I started reading more difficult books since I started using Vocabulary.com. Before, my brother read almost all the books in the Percy Jackson series, but I tried to read one but then I said, “This is too hard,” and then I didn't read it again until after I could understand more words. It makes me enjoy more books because I have, like, a higher reading level because I have a wider range of books that I can select because I'll be able to understand the words and it won't be difficult for me. And I won't have to have a dictionary next to me just to find out what a word means all the time.
  • V: And you got a new book today...
    E: The book I chose today was The Battle of the Labyrinth which is about a mythical labyrinth that is apparently underground that can make you travel from a certain place to another place in a quick amount of time if you're able to navigate through it. I can kind of identify with the main character because so far in the book he's fourteen, and I'm also fourteen because my birthday was two days ago on Wednesday. And I can identify with him because not only is he going through the quest to find certain things to fight monsters but he's also going through his normal life of being a teenager. And, like, he's able to handle both things — so it’s kind of like a model to me. Another thing is he doesn't always rely on the weapons he has. He sometimes relies on his wits, and he also relies on his friends.
  • ... follow your dreams, follow your goals, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.
    V: It’s interesting to hear how you relate to the character and those messages about life. What else kind of guides you as you’re going through school and growing up?
    E: If you want to be successful there's, like, three points: First, believe in God. He's going to help you, he's going to guide you. The second point is believe in yourself. And then, follow your dreams, follow your goals, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.