Learning a language

The role of vocabulary in language learning

The quantity and quality of vocabulary at the command of a person greatly influences her ability to comprehend and analyse knowledge. In fact, the irony is that in our attempt to explain a ‘more complex’ concept in ‘a simpler language’ we only make it more complicated for the ones poorer in the language. For example, trying to simplify a concept for a Class XII student by explaining to him in his mother-tongue instead of the language of instruction may actually leave him worse off in terms of a broader understanding of the concept.
Here is a sample of text which will be explained again without certain keywords (i.e. in simpler vocabulary):
‘The ratio of two quantities of the same kind and in the same units is a fraction that shows how many times one
quantity is of the other.’ The antecedent (i.e. numerator) and the consequent (i.e. denominator) are the terms of a ratio.’
This text minus four vocabularies – fraction, quantities, numerator, and denominator – would have to be re-written as follows (this is, of course, a version for illustration only) by replacing the four vocabularies in the text by their definitions:
‘The ratio of representations of the amounts of two things of the same kind and in the same units is a form of writing number in the form a ÷ b or a/b where ‘a’ and ‘b’ are two numbers such that they represent any number between 0 to infinity and a further condition
that b ≠0 and is denoted as a : b; it also shows how many times is the amount of representation of one thing with respect to the other representation of the amount of the other thing.
The number which is ‘a’ term of the number represented as a/b is the antecedent or the numerator and the number which is the ‘b’ term of the number represented as a/b is the consequent or the denominator, are the terms of a ratio.
Is the later expansion any easier to understand? Hopefully, the point is conveyed – a simpler vocabulary is no substitute for the use of appropriate vocabulary in a communication!

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