Use of Vocabulary in Compositions

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Use of Vocabulary in Compositions

Postby Emelyn » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:32 pm

HI parents,

DS1 is P4 this year. He has no English enrichment classes or Creative Writing classes. We are coaching him ourselves. DH will work on expanding his vocabulary and good phrases once a week. In school, the teacher will distribute good compositions written by his peers. He reads very very widely too.

However, he is still using very simple words and phrases in his composition. Teacher just commented "It is high time that you make use of vocabulary and good phrases used in your peers' work. You have been using the same words and phrases repeatedly." But teacher did comment that it is a good piece of work, I think in terms of content.

He scored 14/20 for the compo.

Any advice how we can get/help/advise/suggest/whatever him to use more vocabulary in his composition ?

Really feel very frustrated and helpless..

Emelyn
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Postby apple79 » Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:09 pm

Hi,

I remembered when i was in primary sch, we were encouraged to read more books and jot down any good phrases/description in a jotterbook and use this book as a reference when I am doing composition and try to use any phrases that fits.

It helps me lots!

apple79
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Postby Emelyn » Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:02 pm

I think the main problem is that DS1 is not actively using these vocabulary. We have books with good phrases... and even how one can describe a particular place, for eg, the supermarket. But he is not using these resources.

Emelyn
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Postby ChiefKiasu » Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:11 pm

Emelyn wrote:I think the main problem is that DS1 is not actively using these vocabulary. We have books with good phrases... and even how one can describe a particular place, for eg, the supermarket. But he is not using these resources.


You have to make it a point yourself to use the phrases with him on a daily basis when conversing with him. Use every opportunity you have to use a phrase, be it in English or Chinese. It will bring to life what he reads, and give him the context of how to use them. Do it consciously until it becomes second nature to yourself and your child. In effect, you are learning together with him.

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Postby apple79 » Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:15 pm

what my teacher used to do is that whenever we used a good phrase, she will specifically highlight it to the class. It boast our confidence... maybe as parents we can do the same to encourage frequent usage of those phrases... just my 1 cents worth cos my dd not even in nursery yet. Just sharing my own experience.

apple79
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Practise what we preach... ;)

Postby buds » Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:34 pm

For one to be active using idioms and phrases, one has to
actively use them. When they are comfortable in using the
phrases in their daily conversation, can they then effectively
use them in their writing. Having lots of resources and reading
widely may not always equate to one using creative vocabulary
all the time.

Like sometimes when i'm hungry, i just say, " Boy, i'm so hungry
i could eat a horse!" instead of just saying i'm very hungry. Or i
alternate it to "I'm starving! Can you hear my tummy rumbling?"

Or in another example i've shared in another thread before, the
word delicious can be shown in the way we speak as well. Say for
example, if we're to attend a nice dinner outside... ermm... mebbe
a buffet, let's say.... we can use, "My... the food sure looks scrumptious!"
instead of the usual "Very yummy!" or "Very delicious!"... and don't forget
there's also tasty!

My thoughts are if we as parents make the effort to use wide vocabulary
when speaking to one another or to others, our children can be influenced
to use them in their speech (amongst their friends) and also in their writing!
We can be the walking dictionary for them.. :wink:

buds
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Postby acforfamily » Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:34 am

agree with buds.

I have another method too. I own a Longman dictionary of English Idioms. The school teaches English by themes, so if the week's theme was "mystery and detective stories", I would look for words in their vocb list; e.g. thief - phrases that come up would be "procrastination is the thief of time", "set a thief to catch a thief"; another example: rob - "daylight robbery", "rob Peter to pay Paul". I would go through the explanation with DS and ask him to come up with examples himself. So far, he has been quite interested.
I find this extremely helpful especially when I sometimes have to crack my head to think of idioms or more 'colourful' phrases myself. In addition, he reads a lot but I am unsure whether he knows the exact meaning of what he is reading, so this gives me a chance to make sure that he understands fully as well.

acforfamily
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Postby Emelyn » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:29 am

thanks to all your replies !!

i will START to use all these vocab/good phrases in my conversations with them.

Emelyn
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Postby csc » Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:03 am

[Editor's note: Topic selected and edited for Portal publication.]

There are more to a good piece of writing than using good phrases. A piece of writing full of 'good phrases' with no interesting content will not 'score' well. Some students have a tendency to 'overuse' such phrases or use them inappropriately.

An excellent piece of work needs to have clear and appealing ideas and is supported with vivid details. The introduction must be effective and has the ability to arouse the interest of the reader. Some examples are : use of sounds, dialogues or flashbacks.

An example of a flashback: " Sitting in my cold, dark cell, I reflected and mourned on my dark, shadowy past.........."

Characters must be interesting and well-described. The use of relevant dialogues and description of appearance can bring life to the characters.

Example : "The pharmacist recoiled in terror and let out a blood-curding scream."

Of course, interesting phrases must be used. Try to make the phrases specific and vary their usage. So instead of car, use phrases such as a red BMW. Use vivid verbs - such as scurried off instead of ran.

Pay attention to the sentence structure. Vary the length. Strike a balance between long and short sentences. Sometimes a short sentence can have a great effect on the reader.

Example : There was no sign of the policeman; it was as quiet as a graveyard. I panted and gasped for air. There was a sense of triumphant feeling in me. I had escaped.

Try a different way of starting a sentence instead of using nouns or pronouns.

Example : Grabbing a knife from a kitchen, I made my way out.

Shocked at the appearance of the stranger, the children fell silent.

Use good linking words and connectors well. eg Just then, without hesitation

Start and end well. A good ending will leave a lasting impression on the reader.
Eg : "Murder. I had killed someone; taken away someone's life. I crumpled my face with tears. Then I ran. I ran."

Last, but not least,there must be minor mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

csc
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Postby schellen » Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:07 am

A word of caution: Don't go overboard and end up overusing "fancy words" (sorry, I don't know what else to call them :wink: ). If you do so, the marker will get the impression that you're trying too hard and he/she will be overwhelmed by all the fancy language.

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