Active Vocabulary

All the Words a Child Can Use in Speech and Writing

Mother and daughter on couch with book
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An active vocabulary describes all of the words that a child (or anyone) can use in speech and writing. Active vocabulary is similar to a passive vocabulary in that the child understands what the word means, the difference is that when a word is in a child's active vocabulary, it means the child can also name the word, define it, and use it properly in context.

Children often have more words in their passive vocabulary than their active one, simply because they can guess what a word means through the context.

Once a child has heard a word enough times and becomes familiar with its usage, it will become part of the active vocabulary.

Language Milestones

Studies on child development set general milestones of language development: cooing in the first half year, the first words between eight and 18 months, combinations of words at the beginning of the third year of life and grammatical constructions around the age of 4-5 years. Of course, individual differences are important, and not all children cross these stages with the same length and characteristics, language acquisition being closely dependent on internal predispositions and environmental factors. 

Building an Active Vocabulary

Native gifts and the growth in an environment rich in communication help the child to heavily develop and enrich both his active and passive vocabulary. The mother has, in general, the role of a teacher in the child's early years, by the rapprochement relationship nature between the two.

But this is not free of risks, because the mother, by her desire to be understood, simplifies the language to make it more accessible to children, may alter the structures of pronunciation, leading to a wrong acquisition that shall be corrected later, not without efforts. For this reason, it is advisable to speak with the child properly, even if we use simple words to be understood, regardless of child's age.

 A great way to help your child

build both their active and passive vocabularies is to read aloud to them, and often. And if your preschooler gets into a favorite book rut, that's OK. Hearing the same words over and over again will help cement them into your preschooler's brain and, by default her passive and active vocabularies. 

Testing an Active Vocabulary

To test your child's active vocabulary, simply ask him to describe common words he uses regularly. For example, cat. Some words and phrases you may hear are that cats have four legs, are fuzzy, and can meow. If your child can't define the word with good examples, then chances are the word is in the passive vocabulary. Passive vocabulary means a child recognizes something, while active means they can describe it and truly know what it is.  that cats have four legs, are fuzzy, and can meow. If your child can't define the word with good examples, then chances are the word is in the passive vocabulary. Passive vocabulary means a child recognizes something, while active means they can describe it and truly know what it is.

 

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