Tips from an Orange County Writing Tutor: 4 reasons to broaden your vocabulary


Whether students are in elementary school or preparing for their SATs, they will benefit from a broad and varied vocabulary. Many students are marked down because they use the same two adjectives over and over again in a research paper or struggle with reading comprehension because there are too many words they don’t recognize. By the time students get into the upper grades it’s important they understand how to recognize different types of words, can tell the difference between positive, negative and neutral connotations, and understand different types of jargon. These skills will be helpful as a K-12 student, but they will become essential when students go out into the world to focus on college and career.

1. One word at a time

When students are assigned 20 or 30 new terms at a time, they tend to learn almost none of them. Learning new words is just like learning people’s names; it’s easy to remember one new person but meeting 20 people at once usually results in disaster. It’s the same with vocabulary so students should focus on learning one word at a time and learning it well. They should be able to understand when it’s appropriate to use a particular word, be able to use it in their sentence, and know whether the word has a positive or negative connotation.

2. Words in context

It’s also important for students to be able to recognize words in context. A new word can have very different meanings depending on the other words around it. Is the term used sarcastically by a character in a novel? Is it meant as an insult or compliment when said out loud? Students need to know how to use words in their own spoken context as well as in their writing so that what they are trying to communicate makes sense (READ: Fullerton AP Tutoring Tips: 5 Ways to Ace AP World History).

3. Test prep vocabulary

Nearly every college prep student dreads the thought of studying their SAT or ACT vocabulary. That’s because it’s pretty boring to memorize a list of new words. However, students can learn new words and understand how they’re meant to be used if they learn just a few words at a time and have a chance to be able to confidently use these words in their writing before they have a new set of words to focus on. This means they should start with their vocabulary study well in advance of their test date.

4. Effective communication

Effective communication is required at every stage of learning and becomes essential when students get out into the workforce. They need to be able to recognize what people mean by what they say, essentially reading in between the lines. Students need to be able to understand what somebody is asking of them and also understand how to ask questions themselves effectively. Having a broad vocabulary is a big part of successful communication and can benefit students for the rest of their lives.

Want to improve your writing skills? Our private Orange County writing tutors are here to help.

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