Improve Literacy

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Improve Literacy Newsletter

24 July 2009 -- Issue 16

Hi there!

This month we are going to look at the importance of vocabulary, and the role it plays in critical literacy. Let's get straight into it!

In this issue:

1. Vocabulary learning
2. Being aware of high-frequency words
3. A few useful vocabulary websites
4. Visit the Improve Literacy blog, and Twitter and Facebook pages
5. The Improve Literacy website

1. Vocabulary learning

Along with phonics and reading comprehension, vocabulary learning is one of the cornerstones of literacy development. There are over 300,000 entries in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it's estimated that our basic conversation is made up of about 5,000 of these, which we use on a regular basis. Reading books is a great way for kids to extend their range of vocabulary.

Children's books allow kids to encounter new words - rare words they otherwise wouldn't come across in everyday life. You're unlikely to come into contact with many of the animals that appear in the vast range of children's storybooks, yet countless is the number of children who know unicorns, hippopotamuses, elephants, possums and dinosaurs.

2. Being aware of high-frequency words

a) High-frequency words are the ones that we speak most regularly in our everyday conversation, and there are a number that early speakers will use even more regularly than others.

Most of these are obvious, but it's worth being aware of the list:

I go come went up you day was look
are we of the this dog me like going
big she and they my see on away mum
it at play no yes for a dad can
he am all is cat get said to in

b) Have a dictionary at hand when you read books together. Look up any word your child doesn't know or understand rather than telling her what it means, as this will teach her not to be reliant on you and will help her to be independent. Illustrated dictionaries are great as they allow your child to visualise the word.

c) Have a word race. Give your little one a list of between 5 and 10 words (depending on age and ability) to look up in a dictionary or encyclopedia, and time him. You could even set up races between friends and family.

d) Make a picture dictionary. Encourage your child to create a scrapbook-style dictionary, with images cut out from magazines or newspapers to accompany the words. She could even try doing her own illustrations for some of them.

e) Join/visit the local library. Your local library is the perfect place to visit for a wide range of free children's books that you and your little one can borrow. Make it a regular outing, and one to look forward to. Libraries these days are bright, colourful places with lots of activities like story readings and kids' plays.

3. Visit the Improve Literacy blog, and Twitter and Facebook pages!

A few months ago we launched our new Improve Literacy blog - the aim of the blog is to help parents and carers by giving useful hints, tips and information about improving child literacy, reading and reading comprehension skills. It will also help keep you up to date with all the latest literacy-related news. We’d love to hear what you think - leave a comment at any time!

You can now also follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

4. The Improve Literacy website

Our website provides information and advice to parents about child literacy and ways to motivate children to read. You can also make your child the star in our personalised storybook, which is designed to stimulate a child's excitement about reading. Feel free to spread the word to other parents or people you think might be interested in our articles, newsletter and storybook!

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