How to Improve English Vocabulary Skills in Kids?

Ms. Teena Chabbra
Sep 8, 2022

Words empower kids to make sense of the world around them. A wide vocabulary helps them to put their emotions into words, imagine, wonder, and socialize with people. 

Vocabulary plays an important role in a child’s overall literacy development. Owing to its importance, teachers of Abu Dhabi International School give direct instruction through structured lessons so that students build a strong base of vocabulary.  

What is Vocabulary?

Vocabulary is a set of familiar words that a person knows and uses for communicating. Usually developed with age, learning English vocabulary skills is essential for helping children (and adults!) to communicate and expand their knowledge.

What are the Types of Vocabulary?

There are four types of English vocabulary for kids:

1. Listening Vocabulary

Kids listen during all their waking hours and continue to learn new words this way throughout their lives. By the time they reach adulthood, most of them will recognize and understand close to 50,000 words, one of the best benefits of vocabulary.

2. Speaking Vocabulary

It involves the words that we use while speaking. The speaking vocabulary is relatively limited where most adults use a mere 5,000 to 10,000 words for all their conversations. This number is much less compared to our listening vocabulary.

3. Reading Vocabulary

It consists of the words that we understand when we read text. We can read and understand many words every day that we do not use in our speaking vocabulary. 

This is the second-largest vocabulary. 

4. Writing Vocabulary

Writing vocabulary consists of words that we can retrieve when we write to express ourselves. Our writing vocabulary is strongly influenced by the words that we are able to spell.

Why Learning Vocabulary is Important for Kids?

A strong English vocabulary for children improves all areas of their communication — listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  Without vocabulary, children will not be able to communicate and express their feelings effectively. A vocabulary expands a child’s knowledge of words thus providing unlimited access to new information.

11 Ways to Improve English Vocabulary Skills in Students

Below are some of the easy and fun ways to improve English Vocabulary Skills for Students:

1. Developing Reading Habit

Students should be encouraged to read books. By reading books they will come across new words and will also understand the usage of different words based on the context. Students can then find the meaning of these words using a dictionary and try to use them in sentences.

2. Make Flashcards

Students can start by putting together a few dozen flashcards filled with words that they have not added to their vocabulary, and frequently add new flashcards to their collection. Running through these flashcards just once a day will eventually help expand the English vocabulary for kids.

3. Describe the Surroundings

Students should be encouraged to pay attention to their immediate surroundings. They can try to name the things in their setting and use different words to describe the people around them. 

This exercise will help them put the new words they use into practice in order to better commit them to their memory.

4. Listen to English Songs

Listening to English music is a great way to learn new words while being relaxed. As students listen to the lyrics of the song they will be exposed to new English words.

5. Learn a Word Each Day

Learning a word each day is one of the easiest ways to build vocabulary. If a student is committed to learning just a single word each day, he/ she will have 365 new words added to their vocabulary lists in just a year. 

6. Play Word Games

There are a few games such as Online word memory games, Word Train Talking Games, and vocabulary bingo to name a few that students will enjoy and improve their vocabulary simultaneously.

7. Use the Three-Period Lesson

It is a method that Montessori primary teachers use to introduce new vocabulary or concepts and demonstrate the purpose of a material to a child, this involves three key steps- naming, recognition, and recalling. 

8. Use a Word App

There are many apps available on smartphones that a parent can help their child learn new words. These apps not only provide the meaning of the words but also explain in which context the word can be used.

9. Watch English Cartoons With Subtitles

Almost all children love watching cartoons. This can be taken as an advantage. Parents should allow children to watch their favorite cartoons with subtitles and encourage them to read the subtitles. This will also improve their concentration.

10. Attach an Image to Certain Words

Associate an image with a certain word, Every time a child sees that image they will immediately think of that word and thus start to use it in sentences and conversation power. 

11. Talk in English With Friends

Knowing the importance of vocabulary building, parents and teachers should encourage students to talk to their friends in English and exchange new words learned and explain their meanings to each other. 

What are the Common Difficulties of Learning Vocabulary?

When a word is difficult to pronounce, students find it more difficult to remember it. In addition, the different grammatical forms of a word cause difficulties in learning English vocabulary for kids. Sometimes a single word has different meanings based on the context, which confuses the students to use them appropriately. 

Also, sound-spelling mismatches are likely to be the cause of errors. Moreover, the spelling of a word is changed when it is used in different tenses, such as eat, eating, eats, ate, which again confuses the students.

How to Learn Vocabulary in English - Games & Activities for Fluency?

The best way to get students to learn and improve English vocabulary skills in their formative years is through games and activities:

Vocabulary Games for Kids

1. Checkers Board

In this game, the students are grouped into pairs with a checkers board and they write words in the white spaces. As students play through the game they learn about using known words in sentences.

2. Vocabulary Bingo

It is similar to the checkers game. Here, children come across new vocabulary words by creating their own Bingo cards.

3. Pictionary

In this game, the class is split into 2 teams. A member comes up and is asked to draw one vocabulary word asking his/ her team to recognize the word.

4. Charades

In Charades, instead of drawing, students act out the vocabulary word. If there are timid students in the class, you can consider assigning 2 people to act out the words at a time.

Vocabulary Activities for Kids

1. Create a Word Map

Word map helps to deepen the understanding of a word by relating it to other words and concepts that students might already know. This will help students to learn vocabulary in English easily and in a creative way.

2. Draw Sketchnotes

Teachers can have students draw a sketch that sums up each word. It is a lot more fun and gives students an image for visual association and to help them remember the meanings.

3. Bump Antonyms

Group vocabulary words together with a few other words having similar meanings and one that is an antonym. Ask the students to identify an antonym and “bump”(link) it to the next box, fill in the next group of words, and continue doing this until the worksheet is full.

4. Word-Character Match

Ask the students to use different words to describe the various characters in their story books along with their feelings, thoughts, and actions.

5. Fill in Words

A to Z- Choose a word, then challenge students to come up with related words for as many letters as possible from A to Z. 

What are the Advantages of Building Vocabulary?

1. Research has shown that children need to understand 98% of the words they read to understand what they are reading. Improving vocabulary skills will improve their understanding of textbooks and novels.

2. Improving language and literacy skills early in life will help students to be more successful communicatively as well as academically.

3. A strong vocabulary gives children the power to use the right words and express themselves more clearly. 

4. Learning all types of vocabulary will help students to be more effective writers and speakers.

5. According to research, a person’s vocabulary level is the best single predictor of his professional success. According to it,“Success in the business place depends upon your communication skills”.

List of English Vocabulary Words for Children

Knowing about the various words of English vocabulary for kids will help teachers bifurcate and teach them as per students' needs and grades.

Vocabulary Words for Kids of Grade 1















Vocabulary Words for Kids Grade 2
















Vocabulary Words for Kids Grade 3













Easy Vocabulary Words

Introducing the below easy words will help in checking your child’s understanding of these words and their meanings.

1. As

2. For

3. How

4. Did

5. Can 

6. Be

7. Have

8. Had

9. Just

10. Make

Daily Use English Vocabulary Words

Childhood is the best time for starting to learn a new language. By teaching your child the below 10 daily used English words, they will develop a strong foundation in the English language that will last a lifetime.

1. Girl

2. Way

3. Ball

4. Friend

5. Bear

6. Eye

7. Game

8. Mother

9. Foot

10. Nest

Common English Vocabulary Words

When it comes to learning a language, vocabulary is probably the most important thing. Without learning about the below common vocabulary words, you cannot read, hear, speak, or write. 

1. Accept

2. Agree

3. Allow

4. Answer

5. Ask

6. Be

7. Become

8. Believe

9. Borrow

10. bring

Best English Vocabulary Words

There are some best lists of English vocabulary words that can be used to impress people and boost confidence, such as below:

1. Keen

2. Tentative

3. Nonetheless

4. Adequate

5. equitable

6. Pragmatic

7. Unflappable

8. Antic

9. Syntax

10. affectionate

Difficult Vocabulary Words

There are some tricky words that are difficult to understand as well as their pronunciation can also be a problem for kids. Some of the difficult words in English vocabulary for kids are

1. Literally

2. Ironic

3. Irregardless

4. Irrelevant

5. Colonel

6. Nonplussed

7. Disinterested

8. Lieutenant

9. Unabashed

10. Enormity


1. What are the Top Vocabulary Strategies?

1. Word Connections Formation

2. Discovering a new word

3. Drawing Frayer Squares

4. Memorizing New Vocab Words

5. Using Synonyms and Antonyms

2. How can Students Learn New Vocabulary?

1. Reading with a focus to understand the usage of words based on context

2. Looking up for any words they don't recognize

3. Reading dictionary and thesaurus

4. Talking to good readers and speakers and taking their feedback

5. Learning one new word each day

3. Why do Students Struggle with Vocabulary?

1. The written form of certain words is different from the spoken form in English

2. The number of words that students need to learn is exceedingly large 

3. It is difficult to remember words with more than two vowels

4. There is the complexity of word knowledge

5. More than one word has similar meanings.

4. What are the Best Methods to Improve Vocabulary at Home?

1. Show children the various things present in the house by using different words.

2. Have a two-way conversation while discussing an event or while doing school homework.

3. Tell your child about childhood stories and get them to talk and ask questions, thereby improving vocabulary.

4. Ask children to name the color and sizes of their toys.

5. How Many Words Does a Fluent Speaker Know?

A fluent speaker knows more than 10,000 words.

Ms. Teena Chabbra

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