The Value of Vocabulary in Acquiring Knowledge

Last Updated: 12 May 2023
Essay type: Process
Pages: 4 Views: 150

Vocabulary plays a significant role in learning how to read. Beginning readers often use the words they hear orally to make sense of the words they see in print. Readers may not understand what they read without knowing the meaning of the words, making vocabulary a very important aspect in reading comprehension.

Vocabulary is considered to be a literacy problem as they may require more than a dictionary and an educational commitment to overcome the obstacles surrounding learning of vocabulary. In developing a strong reading vocabulary, students need instruction that would help them acquire new word knowledge and come up with strategies to assist them in increasing the depth of the knowledge over time.

There are various recommendations regarding the learning of vocabulary in a classroom setting. The divergent recommendations of wide reading versus direct instruction by teachers are derived from different assumptions about the extent of vocabulary knowledge and how the new words are learned by the students. For instance, rapid word learning and large vocabularies would be a sign of a lesser role for instruction by the teachers (Fitzpatrick & Meara, 2012).

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There are fundamental obstacles that ought to be addressed for students to develop word knowledge in breadth and depth. The number of words that students need to learn may be exceedingly large. However, there is debate on the size of the task that students ought to learn to become skillful readers.

There is also no doubt that skillful readers learn new words by going through thousands of new vocabulary. Without instructional intervention, the vocabulary gap between more and less skillful readers may continue to widen over time (Fitzpatrick & Meara, 2012).

The differences between spoken English and written English are also part of the literacy problem in the classroom as the vocabulary used in both cases vary. Face-to-face conversation is less rich and varied in the use of vocabulary than written language.

Speakers have varied tools of communicating at their disposal such as the use of gestures and facial expression - that may not be used in written language. In literary writing, the major tool used for communication is precision in word choice. For students learning English, the differences between spoken and written English is known to pose major problems as their vocabulary difficulties is disguised by their fluency in conversation (Fitzpatrick & Meara, 2012).

The complexity of word knowledge poses a problem in the classroom as most students do not know the definition of the vocabulary they are learning. Conventionally, understanding the definition of a word is not the same as the capability to use the word in speech or writing. Knowing the definition of a word is noted to be the first step in knowing the category to which the word belongs. Misunderstandings in the definition of words suggest that students do not always capture the full meaning of words in their logical relations to other words (Fitzpatrick & Meara, 2012).

It is common knowledge that all words are not the same; thus, the complexity of word knowledge. In vocabulary, there are function words and content words. Function words are defined as the words that are used to alert a reader of the sentence structure while content words are the words that contain the information in a sentence. Without both the function and content words, a sentence may be incomprehensible.

Critical Review: Formulation of a Conclusion about the Identified Problem

Direct instruction is noted as an effective way of learning new vocabulary but there is a problem on the size of the task- too many words to teach. Teachers are obliged to weigh on the kind of instruction to offer, depending on the goal. Once common goal for educators and students ought to be the knowledge of words well enough to facilitate reading of comprehension and using the words in speech and in writing.

Given the well-established relationship between vocabulary knowledge and comprehension, facilitating comprehension may be a reasonable goal for educators. Conversely, all studies that present vocabulary instruction end up in students learning new words but only a few students succeed in improving their comprehension skills.

In an attempt to influence the comprehension, educators may have to present several words that have different meanings, go beyond the expected definitions, and engage the students in thinking about words that involve a breadth of information.

For vocabulary learning to be effective in the classroom setting, educators should begin with information about the meaning of varied words, but not necessarily giving formal definitions. It is important to understand the meaning of words rather than mastering the formal definitions.

For the instruction of new vocabulary to give the best results in the learning of comprehension, students should be prompted to use the new words in different sentence structures as the attempt to bring the words back in various formal and informal ways. It may also be appropriate to take the word learning beyond the classroom setting to assist students use context productively. Typical definitions in the dictionary do not promote the learning of new word meanings among students; thus, it is important to implement effective instruction in the classroom.


  1. Fitzpatrick, T., & Meara, P. (2012). Foreword: Vocabulary learning and instruction. Vocabulary Learning And Instruction, 01(1), i-i.

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The Value of Vocabulary in Acquiring Knowledge. (2023, May 12). Retrieved from

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