WORDS…like “Andragogy”

IMG_6387-3559285772-ONow there’s a fancy word, if I ever saw one.   The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines andragogy as “the art or science of teaching adults.” Andragogy is what ACU trains your instructors to do.   We want them to teach adults the way adults learn rather than the way children learn.

Words are the building blocks of knowledge in every field. We should never stop learning new words. Adding to our vocabulary is an essential aspect of life-long learning for adults.

I have the privilege of watching my grandson every Wednesday. He is 18 months old and I am amazed at his language development. He is a sponge when is comes to learning new words and using them properly. I also sense his frustration when he can’t find a word he needs to communicate. Aren’t adults just the same? Our vocabulary will either increase our capacity to speak and write well or frustrate us because we can’t find the word we need to communicate effectively. Without a wide breadth and depth of vocabulary, adults lack a critical tool for success.

So, what should you do to increase your vocabulary? Below is the 4-step process I use to add to my vocabulary. You might find it helpful for your own use.

Writing1. MARK IT:
Never read anything without a pen in hand. Identify words you don’t know by underlining them or writing them down. If you are reading something in electronic format, underline or highlight unknown words. Never just skip over a word you don’t know.

2. LOOK IT UP:
Preferably while you are reading, stop and look up the word you have identified right then. Use a phone, iPad, Kindle, computer or any electronic device to make looking up words easy. Look up the word’s meaning, pronunciation and etymology. If you don’t know what etymology means, it’s a great word to look up right now.

3. OWN IT:
Study the word and think about the meaning in the context of your reading. Look for root words, suffixes or prefixes that help you connect the new word to those you already know. Think of ways you might use it in a class assignment or at work. By using new words they become a part of you. Don’t be pedantic about it. (There’s another great word.) Use the vocabulary naturally rather than in a showy or pretentious way.

4. MAINTAIN IT:
Keep a master list of the words you are learning. Refresh the list with new words and review the list often. Use your smart phone to keep a master list.

ClassThe method above works better than using a random Word of the Day approach because you select words that are found in context and apply them to your life. When something has meaning, it sticks.

When would you ever find time to add one more thing to your plate? You work, have families, take classes and now you are expected to increase your vocabulary too? Here is my last tip. Look for lost minutes. The best example of this is waiting in line. Whenever you are waiting for a gas pump or your turn in a grocery line, pull out your smart phone and review your word list. Maybe you can even use a cool word with the cashier in casual conversation. I guarantee you will never be at a loss for words again.


Dr. Damore thumbnail

 Today’s blog post was provided by Gary P. Damore, Ed.D.

Dr. Damore is a passionate educator and student. He is currently serving Arizona Christian University as a consultant and is a member of the Professional and Adult Studies Strategic team.


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