There are a number of ways we can develop our vocabulary. One effective method for improving vocabulary is that of active learning. Active learning involves learners taking on interactive roles with the learning material. Active production of knowledge is promoted rather than just being passive learners(UC Davis, 2003).
Active learning involves acquiring knowledge through the experience of observing and doing (Fink, 1999). The learner watches and listens while the task is performed and then the learner completes the task themselves. It is also important that active learning incorporates dialogue with self and dialogue with others (Fink, 1999). Dialogue with self involves analyzing the task, whilst dialogue with others refers to discussing the task with others. These processes increase the depth at which understanding occurs. In relation to increasing vocabulary, active experience can take place in both the written and spoken form. It is well established that active learning, rather than passive, is more efficient and effective for developing vocabulary.
It is important for students to take part in more than just listening. Reading, writing, discussing and, actively participating in problem-solving assists in developing vocabulary. Active learning also involves more than just the taking in of information, it also refers to the presence of higher order thinking (i.e. analysis and evaluation) (Bonwell & Eison 2003). Some suggested active learning methods for developing vocabulary include:
Improving vocabulary through active learning can also involve activities where:
Other suggested strategies for vocabulary development using active learning techniques can include repetition; using the word in a different way so that a dissimilar meaning is produced; changing the format of the word usage (such as putting it into a different sentence); and discussing the word and its usage with others (this involves production) (University of Melbourne, 2005).
Active learning is a proven method of learning and improving vocabulary. Many of the above techniques are also incorporated into vocabulary building software. Ultimate Vocabulary’s range of software products draw upon the most effective active learning principles and offer straightforward techniques for increasing vocabulary.
References Bonwell, CC & Eison, JA 2003, Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom, viewed 12 February, 2009, <http://www.ntlf.com/html/lib/bib/91-9dig.htm>.