Words carry great weight. Just ask any schoolchild who has been called a derogatory name, or an employee who has been given a new title at his job, or a woman who has found out she has “terminal” cancer. One simple word can mean the difference between happiness and sadness, life and death. Words can be used for great harm or great healing. The French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, once said that “language is not only an instrument of communication or even of knowledge, but also an instrument of power.”
Our daily vocabulary, or knowledge of words, can make the difference in our quality of life, as well. The way we speak tells volumes about who we are, what we believe, and what we stand for. A limited vocabulary curtails our possibilities, and restricts us from expressing our true thoughts and feelings. When our vocabulary is rich, full, and consistently growing, we have the opportunity to grow into well-rounded individuals with much to offer the world.
A person who actively builds their vocabulary will usually:
- easily comprehend what they read
- do well on standardized tests
- be an effective writer
- communicate more clearly and efficiently
- be successful in the workplace
- learn new skills easily
Because an ample vocabulary is such a valuable asset in life, it is important to make continued efforts toward building its size and strength. This is not a one-time endeavor, but rather a lifetime project. From infancy to adulthood, we capture new words and integrate them into our daily life. Some, of course, we use more than others, but by paying attention to even those words that we seldom use, we are growing our brainpower, and ultimately our character.
Join us over the next few weeks as we look at how each age group, from preschoolers to adults can build a vocabulary that will enrich and improve our communication, and help us fulfill our potential in our education, our career, our relationships, and our daily life.