Learning vocabulary through reading

By: Rachael Roberts

reading3“When I was first learning to teach, someone told me that students have to learn a word 9 times in order for it to really ‘stick’. I have no idea where that little gem came from, but I’m pretty sure someone made it up! Experience tells me that we grasp some items of vocabulary pretty quickly, while others slip through our fingers. There are probably various reasons for this: how much we ‘need’ the word, whether it is similar to a word in our own language or ‘makes sense’ to us in some way, how memorable the context was in which we learnt it and so on.

However, while I don’t think there’s a magic number, repetition is certainly a key part of learning, and if we keep coming across a word or phrase while reading it will either make more and more sense to us, because we’re seeing it in different contexts, or we may even be motivated to go away and look it up.

However, even if we read a lot, only pretty high frequency words will keep coming up time after time. This is where a concept called ‘narrow reading’ comes in. The idea here is that learners are encouraged to read around the same topic for a while, thus increasing their chances of coming across the same, topic-related, lexical items again and again.” To read further please click here:

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