How to improve your active vocabulary?

Written By Lester Ye

Explore new ways to expand your child's vocabulary.

Following the primary English education, students will move on to secondary English education where the syllabus will expand their coverage of language studies by exploring various components to refine their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. For the written aspect, students will cover situational writing, continuous writing, open-ended comprehension, and visual-text comprehension. For the listening and speaking skills development, students are required to undertake listening comprehension questions answering as well as oral communication. Students have to excel at all these areas in order to achieve their desired academic results.


Why vocabulary remains important

Having good vocabulary remains important in secondary school. The study of the English language at secondary level involves the expansion of vocabulary building and grammar structure identification. Students will be introduced to a wider range of real life contexts, in which each require a specific set of vocabulary to use. Students have to learn to identify the appropriateness of words and phrases to use in different contexts. These developments have to be carried out in both written and speech forms to build up the capabilities of students.


Difficulties of learning vocabulary

In secondary school, the introduction of many new subjects will increase the stress and workload of students. Sometimes, good habits built up in primary school such as reading regularly might be lost. Therefore, students’ English proficiency and vocabulary might become stagnant. Consistent effort must be put in to ensure that learning vocabulary is a lifelong learning process.


Ways to improve active vocabulary

#1: Build up the confident to express ideas clearly

An effective way to improve your vocabulary is to use it often. In contrast to other education systems, students are observed to express themselves. Although it may be attributed to the hierarchical structure of the classroom learning, in which educators are the central source of authority, this deficiency can also be traced to the fear of making mistakes. Such a mindset is extremely detrimental to your vocabulary learning process as significant progress can be made only with frequent usage and practice. Therefore, you should build up your confidence and express your ideas clearly with the use of your learnt vocabulary. With practice and long term usage, you will be able to present your views effectively.


#2: Practise

Practice makes perfect. Vital areas of testing for O Level English such as Oral Communication, Comprehension, Composition and Situational Writing all require a good command of English and vocabulary. Making the effort to hone your skills of communication and writing will value-add to your learning of vocabulary. For example, doing comprehension practises will expose you to passages that may seem abstract and difficult to understand. Constant exposure to these will allow you to learn new vocabulary and understand the appropriate contexts to use them. Thus, regular practise will be effective in improving their vocabulary and comprehension of ideas.


#3: Get close guidance or monitoring from your teachers

One way of improving your vocabulary is to identify the potential pitfalls that you encounter in your study of the English Language. However, you may not have the ability to realise that you are faulting in certain aspects, such as the appropriateness of certain vocabulary usage. Therefore, students have to take the initiative to seek guidance from their peers and teachers. Approach your teachers with the extra practices that you did for them to review your writing proficiency level. Thus, you will be able to receive constructive feedback on ways to improve your quality of answers. When you make the effort to work on these areas of improvement, your usage and knowledge of vocabulary will improve tremendously.



Overall, to ensure that students are exam-ready, they need to build up their capabilities in both written and speech forms. With the appropriate practice and feedback, the improvement of their vocabulary will come naturally, helping them to achieve their desired academic results.



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