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What Is Vocabulary Development?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 23, 2024
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Vocabulary development is the process of a person increasing the number of words which he or she uses in everyday life. Many people use websites and books to improve their vocabulary, and doing so can increase a person’s ability to communicate through verbal or written language. Generally, vocabulary development really refers to the process of widening a person’s vocabulary, but it can also mean the literal development, or the initial forming of a vocabulary. Non-native speakers of a certain language will need to work on the formation of a vocabulary.

A person’s vocabulary can be defined as the words that he or she remembers the meanings of well enough to use the word in the correct context. A vocabulary is like an arsenal of words that can be sifted through to use for a given situation and slotted into a sentence at the correct point. A person with a wide vocabulary will be able to add in words that are rarely used but fit in better with the sentence or utterance it is being used. For example, someone with a good vocabulary might refer to a person as being “fatuous” rather than just “stupid.”

People become interested in vocabulary development for many different reasons, but it is generally to sound more intelligent or to be able to express themselves more clearly. Several websites and computer programs aim to improve their users’ vocabularies, and these often present the learner with an example context for the word as well as a definition. In order to remember a newly learned word, a person should use a combination of methods. It helps to read the word, listen to it being said, and to use it in a sentence.

An important part of learning a second language is becoming acquainted with the particular vocabulary of that language. During the early phases of learning a language, the most important vocabulary development takes place, where the learner first begins to build up a store of words in the new language. As he or she becomes more familiar with the language, learning synonyms, or words with equivalent meaning, gains importance. Vocabulary development is particularly important for any person learning a foreign language who wishes to study an academic subject in that language.

Increasing vocabulary has a lot of benefits, and as a result many methods of improving vocabulary have been developed. One of the most simple is reading books, and the learner is advised to look up any words that he or she doesn’t understand. It can also help to look at the similarities between related words in vocabulary development and to learn about the etymologies of words.

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