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?