As a school, we value the importance of vocabulary by making words a priority in our classrooms, empowering our pupils, having fun and enriching the whole school. Our staff ensure to pounce on every opportunity throughout the whole school day, not just in an English lesson starter.
Words and vocabulary are much more than just a piece of the educational jigsaw; words are a constant. Since the beginning of mankind, language and words have evolved with us and are the lifeblood of humanity. Vocabulary surrounds, engulfs and guides us every day; without words we’d be lost.
The great thing about vocabulary is that it is extremely accessible for all pupils – it literally empowers them. Pupils quickly become adept at using more complex language, varying verbs and adjectives, while developing a greater capacity to show not tell. Quite quickly, ‘big’ will become ‘enormous’; ‘happy’ will become ‘elated’; and what was once ‘boring’ will become ‘mundane’, even ‘tedious’.
As a school we understand that we can’t create more time, and that vocabulary should underpin all aspects of the curriculum. Every interaction, every conversation, every minute, every lesson, every day is vital – it’s about the sum of all the small parts and valuing the marginal gains of each interaction, taking pride in the micro-victories. We make the most of the time that pupils are with us in school.
Strategies to support vocabulary development:
The vocabulary learning environment
At the beginning of lessons, children are shown key terms related to their learning to discuss and activate their prior knowledge. Teachers are able to use this to ascertain the starting point for the lesson. The learning environment supports vocabulary development with key words, images and contextualised examples.
All KS1 and KS2 classes have a vocabulary mascot which children are invited to take home and record favourite words and phrases in a notepad that is then shared with the rest of the class.
Concept maps and knowledge organisers include key vocabulary for the children to develop and become proficient with throughout units of work. These are regularly referred to in class and copies are sent home for children to rehearse vocabulary out of school too.
Vocabulary is a key component of our curriculum. It is regularly referred to throughout all interactions. We provide opportunities for the children to encounter vocabulary through high-quality texts, all conversations, independent reading, being read to, modelled writing, listening to others, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, direct teaching, books, picture books, assemblies, encounters on trips and with experts, break times and performances.