5 Tips For Improving Vocabulary in Adult Learners

Posted by on May 29th, 2018

Adult learners’ vocabulary knowledge can vary drastically, providing challenges to educators attempting to develop educational content across the spectrum.


Educators need simple and effective ways to increase their adult learners’ vocabulary skills in order to continue pushing their overall learning. This means adding ways for the students to continue to improve their vocabulary without making it the sole focus of their education.


Here are five methods teachers can use in their adult learning classrooms to have students practice and develop strong vocabulary to match the levels of the education they are expecting to reach.


Focus on new words through a growing vocabulary list

  • Have students look up, write down and study definitions
  • Break down the words into prefixes and suffixes
  • Provide examples of the words in context and have the learners write their own
  • Give students ownership over their comprehension by rating their levels of understanding after word pre and post tests


Provide ample reading opportunities

  • No matter the level of the reading abilities, encouraging students to read as much as possible will expose them to new words
  • Assign students to add newly discovered words to their vocabulary list
  • Engage students in response discussions of what they’re reading, and to write self-reflective reading journals to keep track of their reactions and critiques of what they read


Use visuals to create connections and relationships between new words and mastered words

  • This can be achieved through images, graphics, and art
  • Computer-based programs can provide a place for students to search for connective visuals
  • Sign-Language is another way to give learners more recognition and meaning connections to the words


Practice all the time

  • Encourage students to practice their vocabulary learning by focusing on reading assignments and writing prompts. Reading fluency and writing skills will lead to mastery of these new words through functional use.


Connect words with similar meanings

  • Have learners group their words with others they know that relate to the new ones. By categorizing word groups, they’ll create shorthands to learning the meanings.


The greatest factor to improving one’s vocabulary comes from the individual’s motivation. Educators need to understand that by employing these tips combined with the student’s goal to improve will foster an environment where they can succeed.



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