How large is your vocabulary? Do you think it could be larger? The answer to that last question should be a yes for the majority of people. According to a study conducted by testyourvocab.com, you could have up to 2x the amount of words in your vocabulary if you just read more. The research found that on average, people who read “not much” ended up having 50% fewer words in their vocabulary when being compared to people who read “lots.” The group conducting the study had a hypothesis that they thought reading would increase someone’s vocabulary, but they never thought that the difference would be so significant.
Those statistics were extremely eye opening for me. I always had the thought that reading would increase my vocabulary, but not to the extent that the research found. I put myself under the category of reading “not much”, but I still thought that I had a pretty extensive vocabulary. After reading the article, I started to wonder if my vocabulary wasn’t as big as I thought, and I wanted to find out how much larger it could be if I read regularly.
I also became interested to find out what my classmates thought of these statistics. Were they also surprised by them? Have they noticed any relationship between reading and their vocabulary in their own life?
The first quote I brought to the classes attention was one that mentioned that the difference between someone who reads “lots” vs. someone who reads “not much” was around 10,000 words. I was interested to see if that surprised them, and if they questioned that statistic at all. To my surprise, many of the people in the class totally agreed and noticed it in their own lives. Sam mentioned that she noticed it between herself and her sister. Sam’s parents read to her when she was younger, but not to her sister, and she noticed that her vocabulary was much better than her sister’s.
The other thing that I wanted to talk about with them was the fact that the difference in vocabulary was going to be the same amount of words at both age 15 and age 60. I wanted to know why they thought the gap didn’t increase as people got older. The general consensus I got from everybody was that at some point it just becomes harder to learn more and more words when you already knew so many. I thought that was interesting.
So we all eventually arrived at the idea that reading builds vocabulary, but I still wanted to know one last thing. Why is it beneficial to have a large vocabulary? I brought up the idea that I hope that it could help me be a better public speaker. I feel that with a larger repertoire of words, I might be less likely to stumble and stutter trying to find the right words to say, and be more comfortable putting sentences together. A lot of people agreed with that. Noah added that he thinks a larger vocabulary can make you sound more intelligent. Almost everyone agreed with that, but they also warned that at times it can make you sound obnoxious. That being said, it’s still important to realize that being able to speak to people in your career could be extremely important. I think those were some things that we could all agree on.
I liked hearing what my classmates thought about all of this, and why they thought it’s beneficial to read and have a good vocabulary. That, and the article made me want to read at least a little more. It clearly can’t hurt.
“Test Your Vocab – How Many Words Do You Know?” Test Your Vocabulary – Blog. N.p., 09 May 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.