Just like leading a healthy lifestyle, word learning is a matter of habit formation. The key to success is consistency and perseverance, or learning ‘little and often’.
Learning a few words often is more effective than learning more words less frequently. Various research studies have found that learning a few words thoroughly and frequently has been shown to work better than teaching many units in one go, once in a while.,
- Specifically, the little and often method was found to be 90% more effective than cramming many words in one go.
- Moreover, children who learned words in this way were found to remember 35% more words than those who were taught the same vocabulary in a crammed manner.
A possible explanation for this result is that words learned in this way are more likely to be stored in the long-term memory.
Spaced repetitionAccording to research, a child needs several encounters with a word in order to learn it - a minimum of six encounters is often recommended, but sometimes it could take up to 12 repetitions for the word to really stick. This will depend on the amount of information relevant to the new word that the child is exposed to.
Repeated exposures are most effective when they appear over an extended period of time.
Mrs Wordsmith products are designed to help you make word learning a part of your daily routine. Whether it’s one word at breakfast every day or a couple on the way home from school, if it’s fun, kids will want to keep it up. Just remember, little and often is the key to success!
- Marulis, L. & Neuman, S. 2010. ‘The Effects of Vocabulary Intervention on Young Children’s Word Learning: A Meta-Analysis’. Review of Educational Research 80(3):300 - 335.
- Smith, T. (2008). Teaching Vocabulary Expeditiously: Three Keys to Improving Vocabulary Instruction. The English Journal, 97(4), 20-25.
- Kornell, N. (2009), Optimising learning using flashcards: Spacing is more effective than cramming. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 23, 1297-1317.
- Bloom, K. C., and T. J. Shuell. (1981). “Effects of Massed and Distributed Practice on the Learning and Retention of Second-Language Vocabulary.” Journal of Educational Research 74 (4): 245– 248.
- Kamil, M. L., Borman, G. D., Dole, J., Kral, C. C., Salinger, T., and Torgesen, J. (2008). Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices: A Practice Guide. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.