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Help For High School Students: Have Fun Building Vocabulary

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 11/12/2013

Learn some fun ways to build your vocabulary without worksheets or boring drills. Activities involve a computer, the Internet and note cards, and any student can start increasing the amount of words he knows today--no matter what his reading level is.

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    Top Three Fun Vocabulary Activities

    Vocabulary You know you need to build a strong vocabulary to do well on the achievement tests, ACT and SAT, and it doesn't have to be boring! When defining fun for young people or teens, many have their own definition. Let's just say that these activities do not include the "drill and kill" worksheets that some of your teachers may hand you in class. In addition, you need to understand that learning can actually be fun. When you feel success, you should feel good. Let's count down to the best ways:

    Number 3 -- Read. Yes, it is that simple. You can improve your vocabulary by reading. You need to find books that you like and ones that you understand. Do not pick boring novels or ones with too many difficult words. Just because it looks scholarly does not mean that it will help your vocabulary. If you do not start or finish a book, what was the point?

    When you do find a word that you do not know while reading, do not skip over it. You need to try and figure it out from the context clues in the passage. It is called predicting or guessing what a word means from all the information you are given in the passage. If you are still stumped, ask someone or look it up. It takes seconds to look up a word on the website Back in the dark ages, your older family members had to drag out a huge, dusty dictionary. You just need to hit a few buttons on the computer. You can even bookmark the dictionary site so that you have ready access to it.

    If you really struggle with reading, you can always find books on tape to listen to as you read. This, too, can help improve your vocabulary. Some of the readers on tape are quite entertaining.

    Research says:

    Michael Critchley reported that the majority of native speakers learn their vocabulary from reading. It is important, however, that the reader understand about 95% of the words in the passages to understand what they are reading.

    Number 2Make Flash Cards  -- Make flash cards of vocabulary words that you need to learn. Now, this may not be your idea of fun, but it can be fun. If you need to brush up on your top 100 SAT words, there is a website called Quizlet that has flashcards already made for you and the website Flashcard Exchange has flashcards for Barron's SAT Hot Prospects Word List.

    If you do not want to go the Internet route and prefer to make up your own paper or note card flash cards, you can make a game of it. Write the word on one side and the definition on the other. The words can come from your teacher or a list for a high-stakes test that is coming your way. The best way to study and have fun is to involve another person. You can have a friend read the word and you can give the definition or vice versa.

    Or, you can make more of a game of it. When you get one right, you need to be able to toss the card into a bucket or hat. When you are practicing vocabulary with a friend, the person who has the most on the floor instead of in the hat has to pick up all of cards on the floor.

    Number 1 -- You can play vocabulary word building games on the Internet. Most of you have been playing on the computer since you could move a mouse, so you're really doing to enjoy these.

    • The website has 40,000 vocabulary questions and tracks your progress. If you miss a question, the website will schedule a review. You will need to sign up with an email account, but it is free. In addition, there is a magazine to offer additional tips.
    • The Sheppardsoftware website has games for students of all ages, from preschool all the way to students who are preparing for the SAT or in need of knowledge of medical jargon. It is free.
    • The website has many free games for non-English speakers and native speakers as well. This website boasts that it can help with the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL test), SAT, PSAT, and GRE.
    • The Time4Learning website has games for a set fee.
    • The FunBrain website has activities for preschool through grade eight.

    These are three entertaining ways that you can improve your vocabulary. Each activity or word game is what you make of it. Learning can indeed be fun especially when you have success at what you are doing.


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