I recently gave a brief presentation to some colleagues about vocabulary instruction. Preparing for the presentation I read about the differences between receptive vocabulary and expressive vocabulary. As suggested by its name, a receptive vocabulary allows you to “receive” words; it’s that sense when you’re reading a book of “Oh yah, I know what that word means.” On the other hand, a strong expressive vocabulary allows you to regularly use big words in your speaking and writing.
Before, I continue I must state for the record that Kyle has an incredibly strong expressive vocabulary, whereas my strength is my receptive vocabulary. Whenever Kyle reads a new word, he makes a point of inserting it into conversations. Last year, he spent weeks seeking out a situation where he could reasonably use the word perspicacious. When he finally complimented our friend by calling her perspicacious, she didn’t know whether she was being complimented or insulted until should found a dictionary. In contrast to Kyle’s strong expressive vocabulary, I only have a strong receptive vocabulary. Strong receptive vocabularies are linked to reading lots, and boy have I been reading lots latey!
In the past month I have read (or am still reading) all the books pictured above. Of the books that I have been reading simply for personal fulfillment, Olive Kitteridge has been my absolute favorite. It is a stunning book filled with an incredible amount of emotional depth. I procrastinated to avoid reading the last chapter, because I simply did not want the book to end! Of the books that I have been reading for professional fulfillment, The English Teacher’s Companion is enlightening me on the best way to teach reading while Teaching as Leadership is quite promising (I only started it yesterday). Finally, I really have been reading cookbooks. I know it seems odd to sit on the couch and read a cookbook, but it’s really quite necessary. Whenever I acquire a new cookbook I have to read it cover to cover to get to know it and figure out where it will fit into my cooking repetoire. Cooking Alaskan, Kyle’s Valentine’s present to me, is a gem. The book is written with wonderful voice, I feel like an old friend has stopped into my kitchen to give me some help. I suppose any good book can serve the role of a good friend: enlightening, providing insight, generating laughter, etc.