Crossword as an academic add-on to vocabulary

Last Updated 20 May 2015, 16:41 IST

I would suggest to anyone who finds difficulty with English at school/college – or anywhere else – to attempt crossword puzzles s/he can lay hands on. Within a few days s/he will notice a tremendous improvement in his/her command of English. Doing crosswords will impress on your memory, words that you would never have a hope of learning from lists. A good method of expanding vocabulary apart, a command of the English language is considered important for advancement in good jobs.

As most newspapers and magazines carry crossword puzzles, it shouldn’t take long for us to see the educational possibilities of these word puzzles. Opportunities for educators to create customised puzzles in line with the language curriculum covered by them should start becoming a commonplace. The advent of the internet age even gives educators access to any number of online listings and user-friendly programmes that will design puzzles geared to the curriculum.

Started as a game used in leisure time, crosswords are now considered teaching tools that are capable of developing attention and concentration and helping in learning specific vocabulary. Even as a game, crossword puzzles seem to be more attractive than others, as they tend to be fun and learner-friendly. The brain-teasers involve several useful skills including vocabulary, spelling, reasoning and word attack competencies.

To solve any puzzle, one must be able to identify and understand the terms being used. While it enables to distinguish between similar words (synonyms) or phrases, the precise deciphering demands perfect spelling, which warrant students to practise dictionary/thesaurus skills.

The other talents acquired in the process include making analogies, appraising options and drawing conclusions. Making crossword solving a habit helps to comprehensively address any situation. Another merit of using the grid-riddle in the class room is that they are associated with recreation and can be less intimidating for students as review tools.

Students who might dodge practice tests or review sessions/assignments will find the puzzle games to be more entertaining activities. Crosswords can also be appealing to different learning styles. Visual learners often display strong puzzle-solving skills and feel elated when they complete one. Even auditory and kinesthetic learners enjoy the step-by-step reasoning and the multi-task strategies required to solve the crossword. The use of crossword represents a way to stimulate students towards being interested on the most important information of the subject.

An enjoyable exercise

Puzzle creation software and websites are easy to use, so teachers can create curriculum-specific puzzles with ease. Whether you are studying American History or the Algebra terms, a crossword puzzle is recommended to be incorporated as a mandatory educational tool to make it a holistic academic exercise. The grid-game will challenge students and can be appropriate for elementary, middle or high school students depending on the levels of the puzzles – from easy to cryptic. Unfortunately, vocabulary is often neglected in many schools.

Though spending more time studying grammar may improve one’s English, you will observe maximum improvement when you learn more words and expressions. Unlike the learning of grammar, vocabulary learning is an incremental and unending task for any language learner. As a teaching strategy, a good solution to poor performance in English is by teaching vocabulary using crossword puzzles. An enjoyable exercise, crossword makes the teaching-learning process attractive and interesting, while enhancing the student learning and in turn, student grades.

Not only does the crossword puzzle offer a challenge that will motivate the students to try to solve the puzzle by making learning fun, it also gives the opportunity for students to practise and repeat the sentence pattern and vocabulary. Those pupils who used crossword puzzle as a method of vocabulary instruction will do better than the one exposed to the traditional lexical pedagogy.

(Published 20 May 2015, 16:41 IST)

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