There’s a lot to learn and learning begins on the very first day of our lives! It might even begin before birth, but since nobody has ever been born with the innate ability to read and write, we know that these well-known signature skills of a civilization must be acquired and nurtured.
There are many other essential skills that a fledgling human learns: eating with a spoon, getting on with others, getting dressed… and most do so at different rates. However, when a child reaches classroom age, understanding the symbolic representation and reproduction of language becomes of primary importance – with good reason.
Almost everything we know about everything is written down somewhere: restaurant menus, The Dead Sea Scrolls, some traffic signs, this blog…
Learning about our own culture, other current cultures, and previous cultures informs and lends intelligence to our perception and decision-making process. Directly affecting in a big way everything around about us. Reading has resulted in enormous changes in how humans have evolved and will continue to do so.
Gaining knowledge of and progress in any area, academically or otherwise, requires a firm grasp of literacy skills.
Popplet is a mind-mapping app, which offers a limitless canvas that lets users capture ideas then organize and connect them in a multitude of ways. It’s no surprise that vocabulary building and Popplet are such a good fit. A language might consist of millions of words – a daunting prospect for the language learner. Fortunately, getting to know each and every word is not how vocabulary building works. The key to understanding a lexicon is to navigate its vastness through its connections. Popplet is the perfect tool for this.
In our previous article, we introduced some ways to teach language learners vocabulary by employing Popplet’s user-friendly features. We hope we gave some indication of Popplet’s potential as an adaptable, effective application for the ESL classroom. Next, we are going to examine more vocabulary building strategies by focussing on:
English teachers know what words are. Of course, we do! If we don’t, then we might as well all pack up and go home. We might need to read up on our grammar from time to time, but words – we are good with words. In fact, everybody over a certain age knows what words are, so as ESL educators, we should probably know a little more than the average. Consider this question, however: “How many words does an English Language Learner (ELL) need to know to achieve Proficiency Level?”. The answer is not so straightforward, and English teachers know why.
Does knowing the plural of a word count as one word or two? Should we count the comparative forms of adjectives or the various verb tense inflections as separate words? Well, yes we could, but language experts and those who teach and study English rarely do when answering questions like the one above. They understand that a lexicon is a fluid, dense, organic network, made up of a world of connections. Embracing this complexity and this connectedness is the key to success in vocabulary building.
The mind-mapping application Popplet, a user-friendly graphic organizer, has a set of powerful features: text, images, video, connections, URLs, formatting, and collaboration. All of these, combined with an infinite, multi-dimensional canvas make it a formidable tool for exploring vocabulary in the English classroom.