Sharpening Your Tools – How to Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Bank
Vocabulary is one of the pillars of your child’s success in their English Language examinations. It features in both Paper 1 and Paper 2 of the PSLE English Language format and is a crucial part in ensuring your child sounds confident and clear. We believe that the learning process in building vocabulary should grow organically and naturally. Forcing your child to memorise words through rote learning methods may not be entirely effective, especially to foster the joy and appreciation of vocabulary as an indispensable English Language tool.
That said, there are various techniques out there in building your child’s vocabulary bank. Some would ensure that their child keep a vocabulary book by their side to record the difficult words their child encounters. Others may prefer quantity by inviting their child to reach a reading quota for each week, e.g. finishing a set number of books or newspaper articles. These techniques, however, often suffer from a lack of focus on building a love for the language as a starting point.
To help you craft the best examination strategy for your child, we have identified three important tips to help your child nurture the love for the English Language and vocabulary!
Tip #1: Reading Purposefully and Effectively
“My child reads a lot.” We have heard this a lot from parents. While quantity is a possible indicator of habit-building, your child can stand out with effective habit-building. Reading goes beyond the mere scanning of the words in the book. It involves extracting and digesting information quickly while understanding both the gist and the specific details in the text. This ability straddles both fiction and non-fiction books. A child needs to appreciate the underlying skills he/she is using when reading a book (and not just memorise the content).
We encourage parents to try and inculcate the habit of purposeful reading in their children. This can be done in three ways. First, adopt a variety of genre and medium as a reading source for your child. This can range from typical books to advanced materials such as news articles/journals (in fact, some of our Primary School students follow the news religiously and are in tune with the updates in politics and economics!). Second, implement check-in points as you keep track of your child’s reading habit. At each juncture, discuss with your child on the key learning points. Third, encourage a normative mindset as your child reads. This means encouraging your child to think about the applications of the lessons he/she is reading to the future (or themselves). Through reading, your child can be the engineers of change for the future world!
Tip #2: English is … Science? Experiment and Discover!
Learning English does not need to be a long, boring or drawn-out process. Some of the students find learning the English Language a draining process because of its multi-faceted nature. Your child has to reach into his/her creative mind for the writing components and then into his/her logical side in answering segments such as comprehension. The various tools, such as grammar and vocabulary, will no doubt put your child in good stead to ace the sections. But the question is – is there another way I can help my child aside from just giving him constant assessment papers to do?
We believe that an interactive and discussion-based approach is one of the more effective ways to engage your child in the learning process. Much like how scientific experiments are engaging and insightful, your child can experiment with various aspects of the English Language in an interactive setting. One key way to do this is to discuss with your child about why he/she chose a particular word in a practice vocabulary assessment. Aside from understanding the technical rules of the English Language, encouraging your child to try and explain their reasons may mimic the process of unpacking a scientific hypothesis. Avoid shooting your child’s explanation down and have an open mind as your child experiments with the language!
Tip #3: Habit-Building Starts at Home
Finally, it goes without saying that the learning process for the English Language starts at home. This process will go beyond formal lessons to creating a positive environment for habit-building. Daily conversations or interactions may form the basis of your child’s success! We would emphasise that in planning the habit-building process, start simple. Take baby steps to allow your child to explore the language before he/she dives into its more complicated aspects.
In fact, keep your child in the loop in the design process by having them contribute their specific interests (e.g. for a reading list or vocabulary bank). By doing so, you will be able to incorporate relevant and interesting themes in the habit-building process to ensure your child is invested in his/her learning as well!
Choose Your Best Strategy!
The strategies we share above can help your child to build his/her vocabulary bank and grow to love the English Language. While vocabulary is but one aspect of the learning experience, it remains a foundational step in building your child’s interest in the language. As they grow to be more comfortable in building their vocabulary bank/English Language, your child will gain confidence and interest to dive deep into their love for the English Language!
For written communication:
English Tuition for Kids – Primary 5 & 6 (PSLE):
For verbal communication:
Public Speaking for Kids / Children: