Help Your Pupils to Boost Their Vocabulary
In 2018, a survey by the Oxford University Press, found that the majority of teachers are seeing a growing ‘vocabulary deficiency’ amongst both primary and secondary school pupils, which they believed was leading to lower self-esteem and negative behaviour.
The impact of a limited vocabulary could be huge; teachers said that not only did the problem hinder pupils’ progress in English but across the curriculum. It could even make them less likely to do well in national tests, such as GCSEs, as they may struggle to understand instructions and questions.
Many of the teachers surveyed blamed vocabulary deficiency on declining numbers of children reading for pleasure, especially as they get older, and said that greater involvement by parents was key to helping children to improve their vocabulary.
Kate Nation, professor of experimental psychology at the University of Oxford commented; “Regardless of the causes, low levels of vocabulary set limits on literacy, understanding, learning the curriculum and can create a downward spiral of poor language which begins to affect all aspects of life”.
Vocabulary Activities for Your Class
There are lots of great activities you can do as a class, in small groups or individually, to help pupils to develop and explore their vocabularies. Why not try one of these?
Within small groups, pupils should take turns to be the describer whilst the rest are guessers. Each pupil should be given a list of words that they must describe without using the word on the card. The person who successfully describes the most amount of words in a given time wins.
Class Brain Thesaurus
As a class take 10 minutes a few times a week to create a class thesaurus. Choose words that are relevant to your learning topics and encourage your class to come up with a list of synonyms. Your chosen words of the week could be written on large sheets of paper and put on the classroom walls so that everyone can see them.
Match the Synonym
Create a set of 20 flashcards comprising of ten sets of paired synonyms. In pairs, pupils should shuffle the set of cards then play “Matching Pairs” with these words.
Alternatives to ‘Nice’ and ‘Said’.
Make ‘nice’ and ‘said’ banned words in the classroom and insist that pupils use alternatives in all creative writing. We have two brilliant A2 posters to support your pupils using alternative words for nice and said, and, even better, they’re just 96p each!
How PTS Can Help
PTS has a fantastic range of vocabulary books for your primary aged pupils. Rather than giving children ready made lists of words, the book encourages them to build their own in handy sections, helping them to overcome any vocabulary deficiency and learn about grammar at the same time. It even has great explanations of different types of words, to help your pupils get to grips with key English language skills.
Sections in the book include:
You can check out our great value vocab books and dictionaries here.
Have you recognised vocabulary deficiency in your classroom? How have you helped your pupils to overcome any vocabulary issues? What do you think the long-term impact of the problem will be for pupils? Let us know in the comments section below.