The Importance of Vocabulary in Language Learning.



The importance of vocabulary in language learning can’t be underestimated. The only way that an adult could understand the difficulties presented during language learning is to enter a new course where the vocabulary of the specific field is not known an understood.
An Example:
I am learning how to build my website and continue to improve  it with the support of a team of experts. When these experts are discussing another action that needs to be taken by the students, there is always vocabulary included that I don’t understand. It is domain specific vocabulary which means in this specific field, it is the language that is used when constructing a website. Does this mean that it is easy to learn-NO! I spend quite an amount of time researching the vocabulary before I can action some of the items that are requested of me as a student.

What students don’t know
This same scenario is what students have to endure every day of the week if they do not understand and know the vocabulary around learning to read, write and spell.

Recently, I was working with some students who were vague about the vocabulary of reading, writing and spelling. So how do these children manage in the classroom-well, they don’t. In my private work, I often hear  children say confusing information for example, one day I asked,

” What is a syllable?”

One little boy said it was a noun. If you are that far off the mark, you would nearly be trying to comprehend a foreign language. This is one of the reasons so many of our children are disengaged-why listen and learn if the teaching is meaningless? This led me to an interest in checking what children know in the area of vocabulary.

Children need to recall automatically their knowledge and understanding of the vocabulary that will be used on a daily basis in their language session. I took the step to write some easy definitions that children could learn to help understanding and automatic recall. Below are only a few of the words that are misunderstood by children. But just check what they know about these words before teaching any more.

Vowel: five special letters of the alphabet.                 Consonants: all letters of the alphabet except the vowels




Syllable: a chunk of letters that MUST have at least one vowel or a Y acting as a vowel.


                                      Rhyme: two words that have two end sounds that sound the same.

                             Base-word: a word that has no endings added but can stand alone as a word.

Suffix: a syllable at the end of the word that changes the word’s part of speech.


         Prefix: a syllable at the beginning of a word that changes that word’s meaning.

In teaching vocabulary, I was taught by a speech pathologist to add an action to the definition so that memory will be enhanced. I now do this recommendation with all vocabulary I teach. The children love it. The action is normally better created by the children. However, in new activities, children need modelling than scaffolding. As an example, for base word the children stand tall and extend their arms and recite-base word is a word that has no endings and they proceed to lower the right hand. This of course is conducted with gusto.

Ann Foster          




Ann Foster tutors children who have difficulties in reading, writing and spelling.

Contact Ann 0n 0414340883 or email


Ann holds the following qualifications:

Diploma of Teaching

Bachelor of Educational Studies

Master of Education ( Special Needs)

Master of Education (Counselling & Guidance)

Ann has also studied specialised units at the London and Pennsylvanian Universities