Vocabulary Education

How can one learn and enjoy vocabulary?

Instead of rote intake and testing, I have put a great deal of focus on reading. But there still more that can be done.

A group of researcher-practitioners put the spotlight on 12 words; with varied texts under the same topic. They ran through a 15 week programme. Recaps were done every 5 weeks. There were exercises on root word deconstruction; cognate study (words/languages that are similar and hence used for comparison) etc. Post programme, students showed enlarged vocabulary bases and enhanced comprehension. [Lisa M. Bedore, Elizabeth D. Pena, and Karin Boerger. (2010). Ways to words: Learning a Second-Language Vocabulary, in The Education of English Language Learners. Editors, Marilyn Shatz and Louise C Wilkinson. New York. The Guilford Press.]

A reasonable effort appearing in a book format is the ‘504 Absolutely Essential Words’ (6th Edition) [Murray Bromberg, Julius Liebb and Arthur Traiger. (2012). New York. Barrons.] Each lesson provides a list of 12 words with 3 meanings each. Then there is a short text involving the vocabulary. This is followed by a picture; a fill in blanks exercise; a thesaurus like exercise (or sentence construction; matching etc.); and finally a very brief exposition on 1 selected word. Personally, this would be a good book for use at the secondary level. But by all means one can always encourage the younger ones to try it (but only if it is enjoyable).

The inference (as indicated by the earlier article) is the usefulness of ‘repeated exposure’ in garnering new words. Increased speeds and volumes do not necessarily equate with better learning. The question remains unfortunately, how much is enough?


[Comment] ‘Can we retire in Singapore?’ – Christopher Tan

Mr Tan, stated in his article for the Business Times Singapore (28 Feb – 1 Mar 2015) that ‘a basic retirement’ is possible for each Singaporean. To note, he is Chief Executive Officer of Providend Limited, a retirement planning and investment company.

This assumes that you aim to achieve a Central Provident Fund Board (CPF) Life monthly payout between $650-700. The CPF Life programme is an annuity (you may also compare it with other private annuities on the market). For those seeking up to $1300 a month, one would need to possess $161,000 for his or her Retirement Sum (at age 55). As confirmed by the CPF site, one’s housing property can also be used to augment the Retirement Sum. Finally, those hoping for up to $1900, the target is $241,000 in one’s Retirement Account.

Conceptually, I would like to propose a modification of of Mr Tan’s pie chart as below.

Retirement Pie Chart

The fourth pillar (instead of three) is that of money/income/assets for others. The CPF Life angle is to term it as a ‘Bequest’. After one’s death the money from CPF Life would go to your beneficiaries. Yet, the money/income/assets for others would include the funds needed for one’s parents for example while they are alive. In a generation of nuclear families, this is increasingly challenging…