The Importance of Words
The Importance of Vocabulary
We know from research that the size of a child's vocabulary is the best predictor of success on future tests. Children with a poor vocabulary at five are four times more likely to struggle with reading in adulthood (Why Closing the Word Gap Matters: Oxford Language Report, 2018).
Many of the words we chose to use ourselves are ‘caught’ from the books we read and the language-rich environment in which we live, so use every opportunity to model new language and words as often as you can at home.
Education researchers Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown have categorised words as follows:
Tier 1 – everyday, familiar words for those children who speak English as their primary language. These are often ‘caught’ rather than learned through direct instruction.
Tier 2 – high-frequency, impactful language encountered more often when reading than used when speaking. These words are useful in multiple contexts and help children express themselves clearly and with precision. These are the words that we aim to directly teach during English lessons (and beyond). These words tend to be used in written language and they are versatile/have a high utility (e.g. occurrence, tended, haunting, fortune).
Tier 3 – The words we use when talking and writing about specific subjects or a particular field of study. These words are either limited to specific domains (like science and maths vocabulary) or they are extremely rare words.
Please encourage your child/children to widen their range of vocabulary and extend their understanding. Regular practice will help children to enhance not only their spoken words but their writing and levels of comprehension too.
When spellings are sent home, please discuss the meanings of words, help your child/children to put new and unfamiliar words into sentences to help contextualise meaning.
When your child is reading, read with them or ask them about new words they came across - this helps to ensure children have full understanding of what they read.
Play games that involve learning new vocabulary and give your child a thirst for words - let them know 'language is fun'.